This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - December 8, 2018

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This Week – December 8, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace and Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mass for the holyday is this morning (Saturday) at 8:35. And in response to the day’s most frequently asked question, especially among the rascals, “No. Today’s 4:45 Mass does not ‘count’ for the holyday and for Sunday.” So there! And if it were mine to grant a dispensation from the obligation, I would do so only for the people who pass the Immaculate Conception quiz (see below)

 
 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • The Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Test your knowledge of the faith. And remember, if you get all the answers right, I might grant you a dispensation to double dip – if I had the juice!

    1. What feast do we celebrate exactly nine months from today?

    2. What do we call the feast that occurs exactly nine months before Christmas?

    3. Who were Mary’s parents?

    4. What scripture passage provides the basis for today’s feast?

  • Advent Penance Service – How long ago was your last confession? Regardless of your answer, Tuesday night is a great moment for your next confession. We have nine priests. Eight have passed the “kind confessor” screening. And the ninth isn’t all that bad. Give yourself a Christmas gift: feel the grace of absolution and true reconciliation. The service starts at 7:30. The eighth graders will be there for their pre-Confirmation confessions. We will have express lines for non-eighth-graders. Extra pitch – if you are a parent of an eighth grader who is going to confession, Tuesday is a great night for you to go to confession as well.

  • Advent Confessions – Remember – on Saturdays December 15 and 22 – there will be an extra half hour of confessions. Saturday afternoon confessions will run from 3:30 to 4:30, rather than from the usual 4:00 to 4:30 

  • Chins up! – Chins up Spiritual Exercisers (aka Exercitants). The transition from the First Week to the Second Week doesn’t happen instantaneously. And yes, the Rules for Discernment are a product of the 16th century. Remember to read them generously and update them in your own mind.

Sunday’s Homily – “December 2, 2018 – First Sunday of Advent, Hope, Part II: Hoping for Safety”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Our Advent Giving Tree: The gifts destined for Appalachia headed out on Sunday afternoon. It was quite an impressive collection, a great tribute to your generosity of spirit. The remainder of the gifts are due by Sunday afternoon. If you want to get a sense of just how good are the people in our pews, take a look at the Memorial Hallway before Sunday afternoon. 

  • Ministry Leaders and Ministry Members – This is a good time of year for all of us to wonder about our ministries here at Saint Joe’s. Soon after Christmas, it will be time for our ministry recruiting Sundays. Now is a good time for ministry members and leaders to wonder about what next steps might be good for your ministry to take. It is a good season for all of us to wonder how God might be nudging us to take up a new ministry or perhaps put down an old one. It sometimes helps to wonder about our ministerial commitments in terms of Priest, Prophet and King – i.e., those ministries that help people to pray, those that provide consolation and challenge, and those that build up the community. Discern well.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • New Parishioners – A hearty and sincere welcome to our newest parishioners. May your years at Saint Joe’s be many and may they be years of blessings for you and, with your help, for all parishioners:

    • Nicholas and Jean Ciampa

    • Vincent and Lorraine Colarusso

    • Jen Hermann

    • Ray and Cara Holzer and their children Stefen and Stasha

    • Christine Leiter (and an additional welcome to Christine’s husband Alan)

    • Nina Napolitano and Rosanna Napolitano

    • James and Mary Ann Polito

    • Irene Tobia and Joanne Tobia

  • Great Pancakes – Dear Knights, You did a completely terrific job on Sunday morning. Everything about the pancake breakfast worked beautifully. Special thanks to Dominick Ferrigno for coordinating the effort and thanks to all the Knights who arrived before dawn and labored mightily.

  • Great Concert – Big thanks to PJ Anderson for yet another wonderful concert. Special thanks to parishioners Mike DeLucia and Pete Macor who were so much more than “doo-wop boys.” And of course, great thanks to our Youth Minister, Bob Ferretti, to all the young people who did the grunt work and to all the parishioners who turned out to enhance the marvelous mood.

  • Great Ornaments – Thanks to all who designed and produced the parish ornament. Remember to purchase one for your tree. They cost only $5.

With blessings for every parishioner and, as we observe Pearl Harbor Day, a special prayer for all who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and an extra prayer for permanent peace. 

Fr Hank

Summary of December 2 Homily:
First Sunday of Advent
Hope, Part II: Hoping for Safety




Who doesn’t hope for safety? We all want it. For ourselves and for those who are dear to us. We all hope for it. Sunday’s readings remind us that God loves and honors our hopes for safety.

Sunday’s first reading (Jeremiah 33) has deep roots in the horrifying story of The Exile. The nation’s leading citizens had been abducted and removed from Jerusalem, Solomon’s temple had been destroyed, and the people who remained fretted about their very survival. The people of The Exile could, at any moment, be abused, sold into slavery or even executed. It was a horrifying time. It is to these terrified people that God tells Jeremiah to declare that, in the future, “Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure.” God recognizes their fear and their hopes for safety and God plans to respond.
Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 21) also speaks to some very frightened people, people to whom Jesus was describing the terrible events that would accompany the world’s end. 

Expressing words of hope and possibility, Jesus tells his audience “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand . . . Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” To his original audience and to those who would later hear Jesus’ words, the messages about “standing erect,” “having strength” and “escaping tribulation” effectively say “I care about your fears and your hopes for safety and I want you to be prepared for the scariest parts.” The passage would later be particularly helpful to Christians who were trying to make sense of the desecration of the temple, the destruction of the temple and the persecution of Christians.

So, what about you? Are you seeing the connections between your choices and habits and God’s desire to satisfy peoples’ hopes for safety? The truth is that you constantly help people to feel safe and when we feel safe, we make more inspired choices. Are you seeing the link between (a) your participation in the parish’s seasonal giving projects (food and gifts) and (b) the sense of safety your gifts engender in the recipients, especially the children. Are you seeing the connection between (a) your regular routine as parent or spouse or child or caregiver or care-receiver and (b) the sense of safety that your choices cultivate in others? Students, are you seeing the relationship between (a) your choices to use your gifts – academic, athletic, spiritual, you name it – and (b) the sense of relief that raises in your parents. And students, are you seeing the way that (a) your choices to include people in your groups at school (b) make the included feel safe in ways God wants them to feel safe.

God has built many hopes into all human hearts. One of them is the hope for safety for our loved ones and for ourselves. We hope that we and our loved ones will abide beyond the threats of harm. Ultimately, it is the “big-H-hope” for heaven where we all dwell beyond death’s shadows and dwell secure in God’s presence. Meanwhile, how are you doing in noticing the ways you help God help people to feel safe, to is this that their realities are aligning with their hopes for safety, to feel that the perfect safety of heaven will someday be theirs?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - December 1, 2018

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This Week – December 1, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

This weekend’s parish fellowship events promise to feed the soul and the body in fine fashion. Last night’s PJ Anderson Concert – with a special performance by our very own Mike DeLucia on guitar and vocals and Pete Macor on bass – was both fun and prayerful and great for the spirit. Sunday’s pancake breakfast will, thanks once again to the great work by our Knights, be fun and delicious. Great thanks to everyone who has put these events together.

And on a less fun topic . . . the dirty rotten scoundrel who was impersonating my email has returned. Please be cautious with emails that purport to be from me. Before opening them, make sure that they are from my real email fhilton@loyola.edu I have no Gmail account. And be assured that I am not in jail in Turkey, do not need gift cards for typhoon victims, and do not need your help in liberating my confiscated lottery winnings. Evidently, many priests have stories similar to mine.
 
THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • The Feast of the Immaculate Conception – The Feast is NEXT WEEK – Saturday, December 8. We will have the vigil Mass for the feast on Friday, December 7 at 7:30. The 8:35 Mass on Saturday morning will also be for the feast. It being Saturday, however, the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, December 7 will be for the Second Sunday of Advent.

  • Taking Care of Business – Keelin Glennon has outdone herself yet again. Keelin has single-handedly replaced all the hymnals with the new hymnals and put a cover on each one. She has also purchased covers for the missalettes that are kept by the front door and put the new missalettes in their covers. Thanks to Keelin for the great effort that helps each of us to pray.

  • Thanksgiving Masses – Blessings for all who helped us to pray at the Thanksgiving Masses – both the 5:00 pm on Wednesday and the 8:35 am on Thanksgiving Day. The turnout for both Masses was great.

Sunday’s Homily – “Sunday’s Homily – HOPE, Part I: The virtue of Hope and the feelings of hope”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • THANKS – for the Thanksgiving Food Baskets – You have done an incredible job – again. Your donations filled 100 baskets. One hundred tables that might have been empty were covered with Thanksgiving dinner. Try to imagine the people on the receiving end of your generosity.

  • THANKS – to Our YOUTH GROUP – The scene here two Fridays ago was more than a little amazing. How many dozens of our teenagers came to church to organize the food and get it into the baskets? It was one of those moments of great rejoicing over the size of our parishioners’ hearts, including the young hearts.

  • THANKS – for Our Advent Giving Tree – You have already taken 700 gift cards. Another 75 were placed on the Advent giving tree yesterday. So you still have a chance to help. Again, try to imagine the gladness you are bringing to 700 of God’s beloved. Three cheers for you. (Friendly reminder – if you have an Appalachia tag, the gift needs to land at the church by Sunday afternoon)

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) –  How blessed are we to share the mission with our friends at Hillsborough Reformed Church (HRC)? We will once again be helping to staff the IHN’s shelter for homeless families when it moves to HRC for the week of December 9-15. Thanks to Sid Lentz for rounding up our share of the volunteers and thanks to Sue Calamoneri for all of her great efforts. If you can help, email Sue at matlison@yahoo.com

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Our Thanksgiving Gatherings – The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving was a wonderful night to be in church. What a treat it was to spend time with the tailgate crowd in the Hospitality Room. Just right. And what a blessing it was to see so many of our young people at the Youth Group Reunion in the parish hall. That was almost a little challenging to take in – all these kids home from college and their first stop was . . . church. Wow. And WOW about our Youth Minister, Bob Ferretti, who does such great work with our young people. Again. Think about that one. They come home from college and head right for church.

  • Put your church on your tree! – Starting this weekend, you can purchase a very special ornament for your tree – a delicate metal cut-out of the parish itself. The ornaments are being sold for $5 – which is just about exactly the cost of production.

  • Becca’s Friend’s Cards – Our Becca’s Friends Ministry – the parish recreational group for young adults with special needs – will be selling cards in the gathering space and at the pancake breakfast. All proceeds help pay for people with special needs to spend time at the ARC of Somerset’s Camp Jotoni.

  • New Banners – Thanks to Kevin Lee for designing the banners on the parish’s light posts. The banners will be green for ordinary time, purple for Advent and Lent and white for Christmas and Easter. Notice the three designs. One depicts the bread and the wine. Another depicts the bible. The third portrays the Holy Spirit on the waters of baptism. Thanks to Kevin for designing them and to Carl Panzera and George Putvinski for helping to install them. 

  • CCD Parents – Remember parents – if your child will making first reconciliation this Spring, please come to one of the parent meetings -- either December 3 or December 4. Both meetings are at 7:30 in the church.  

  • Financial Report – Enclosed in this week’s bulletin you will find the summary of our 2017/18 fiscal year. You have done another wonderful job of supporting our parish. We paid all our bills, including some large capital improvement bills, gave staff raises, expanded some programs, and we still had $3,000 left over to put in the bank. Good for you.

  • Grace Signaigo’s Bequest – The financial summary also reminds us of Mrs. Grace Signaigo’s extraordinary gift to our parish. Her gift increases our confidence that future generations of parishioners will belong to a financially sound parish. Good for Grace.

With all best blessings for you and hoping to see you in the pancake line –

Fr Hank

Summary of November 25 Homily:
HOPE, Part I: 

The virtue of Hope and the feelings of hope


Oxford defines “hope” as “the feeling or the wish that a desired good can be achieved.”
The virtue of hope gives us the conviction that the ultimate good, eternal life, can be achieved. The virtue of hope enables us to trust that Jesus keeps all his promises, including the promises he made about the possibilities of eternal life. Sunday’s readings for the Feast of Christ the King sharpen our focus on eternal life and on our conviction that we can reach it.

Sunday’s first reading comes from the book of Daniel, a book written in the second century BC about events that might have happened during the sixth century BC. The author of Daniel wrote the book to remind his second century BC audience that they too could withstand the persecutions they were enduring. One of his most encouraging messages was that God will send an agent to end their misery and to establish a never-ending kingdom. As Christians, we know that Jesus is the one who will establish that never-ending kingdom, who is “the one like a Son of man” who will receive “dominion, glory, and kingship.” We know that Jesus will have “an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away” and that “his kingship shall not be destroyed.” We are convinced of that precisely because God has blessed us with the virtue of hope. Hope gives us the conviction that God keeps his promises, including His promise about the never-ending kingdom of light, happiness, and peace.

Sunday’s second reading, from the first chapter of Revelation, addresses the same belief. When John, the author of Revelation speaks of Jesus as “the alpha and the omega,” he is speaking of Jesus as the one who always was and who, when he returns, will reign forever.

The gospel passage from John’s 18th chapter describes Jesus’ conversation with Pilate. Jesus makes it very clear that his kingdom “does not belong to this world,” that it is unlike every other kingdom. As Christians, we know that one of his kingdom’s distinguishing features is that it will never end. Once he returns, he will reign over the earth “without end” in that kingdom of light happiness and peace. We know that, we trust that, we look forward to that – precisely because God has endowed us with the virtue of hope.

The virtue of hope (which enables us to believe that heaven will happen) is both like and unlike our feelings of hope. We know from experience that feelings of hope sometimes lead to disappointment, that we sometimes have the feeling or wish that some good thing can be achieved and then it is not achieved. The beloved dies. The job offer goes to another. The relationship withers. Our physical or financial health deteriorate. These experiences of dashed feelings of hope have a way of eroding our virtue of hope. If we cannot trust the Lord in little matters how can we trust him in great matters? The disappointments arising from unrealized hopes can make us wonder if Christ really will be the King forever if we truly will spend eternity with God and our beloved.

Might frank conversation with Jesus help when the disintegration of feelings of hope make it hard to trust that heaven will really happen? Might it help to recall the candid conversations Martha and Mary had with Jesus when their fervent hope for their brother’s survival came to naught? What about spilling it all out to Jesus and naming the ways in which disappointment erodes hope.

And what about others? Are there people in your life who have been through the wringer and find it hard to trust that the virtue of hope – with its conviction about eternal life – makes sense? Is there someone in your life who just needs you to listen to their story, just listen, in a way that enables them to regain hope, to regain the conviction that Jesus loves them and will be their king forever?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - November 16, 2018

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This Week – November 16, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

A greatly blessed Thanksgiving to every Saint Joe’s parishioner. I hope the blessings include an inspired mix of invigorating activity and restorative stillness as well as an inspired awareness of your blessings.

It will be good to pray together. We will be having low-key Thanksgiving Masses on Wednesday at 5 pm and Thursday at 8:35 am. Join the prayer if you can.

It will also be good to hang out for a bit. The Wednesday evening Mass will be followed by a BYOB in the hospitality room. Think of it as tailgating but indoors, and very informal. It is also BYO everything else, munchies etc. I hope someone remembers to bring a corkscrew this year. There is a microwave in the vicinity if your hors d'oeuvre requires nuking.

Meanwhile, as the adults gather in the Hospitality Room, the Youth Ministry Reunion will be taking place in the Parish Hall. It will be wonderful to have our college students back with us.

Thursday morning after the Thanksgiving Mass will be time for deluxe donuts and coffee, once again in the Hospitality Room.

I hope many will be able to join the prayer and getting-together at church. And whether extra prayer and fellowship is or is not part of your Thanksgiving, may your holiday be excellent.
 
THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Prayers for Our Deceased Loved Ones – Our Trees of Remembrance keep us mindful of the call to pray extra for our deceased loved ones in the month of November. Continued thanks to MaryAnn Comiskey and all who created the trees. Continued hopes that all of us, especially our young people, will make ample use of our fundamental prayer for our deceased loved ones:

Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. 

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


Sunday’s Homily – “Perfection? Part 2: God Loves Our Personal Best”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Our Advent Giving Tree – Our Advent Giving Tree is up and full of tags that are ready to take. Thanks in advance for doing what you can to help people who might otherwise not have much of a Christmas. Giant thanks to the 25 volunteers who have been working for weeks to organize the tree’s 500 tags. N.B. –  The tags labeled “Appalachia” are due back by December 2nd so we can get them to the good recipients in Appalachia. Also, the Appalachia tags that specify items from Walmart really do need to come from Walmart as that is the only store in the area. If exchanges for size are needed, they can be easily done through Walmart.  Last thing, all other tags are due back on December 9th.

  • Our Thanksgiving Food Baskets – You have done a marvelous job of helping our needy neighbors to have a happy Thanksgiving. The Memorial Hallway is FULL of the food you have so kindly contributed. Members of our youth group sorted the baskets tonight and delivering them tomorrow.

  • Becca’s Friends – Last weekend was one for the record book. On Friday night the BF volunteers and participants hosted the 165 people who turned out for “The Arc’s Got Talent.” A terrific night. Then on Saturday night, the same group hosted a dinner for 50. Blessings for all of you.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Celebrating our Veterans – Sunday’s 11:30 Mass and the party that followed were exceptional. Thanks and more thanks to all parishioners who have served in our armed forces – and special thanks to all the vets who gave the parish the honor of honoring them on Sunday. Great thanks to the Knights for providing yet another remarkable lunch. And boundless thanks to the incredible crew that produced the event. They thought of everything and then took care of everything – the portraits and the decorations in the gathering space, the flags all around, the boutonnieres, the roll call, the centerpieces in the parish hall, the decorations, the greeters, organizing the gift bags and those who contributed the gifts (the cards from Becca’s Friends, the haircuts from Hillsborough Great Cuts and the prayer cards from the Columbiettes). This group could have gotten Hannibal over the alps in no time flat. It was one superb celebration. 

  • Financial Review – Thanks to the members of the Finance Council and to Bill Strawderman and all who have made our financial reports easy to understand. The audited report for the 2017/18 fiscal year is now posted on our website. The one-page summary will be inserted in the bulletin in a few weeks. The bottom line? Thanks to your generosity, in 2017/18 we were able to pay all our bills (including some major capital expenses) and put a few thousand dollars in the bank.

  • Family Wreath-making for Advent – Eat pizza and make your Advent wreath! Who could want more? Join the fun on Sunday, November 18 from 12:30 – 3:00 PM in the Parish Hall.  

  • PJ Anderson is Returning – Mark your calendar for the return of Nashville recording artist P.J. Anderson. P.J. will be here to lead us in song and fun on Friday, November 30. See you there. 

I will once again be having Thanksgiving dinner at the Cracker Barrel in Lancaster PA. The dinner satisfies my extravagant tastes in food but, far more importantly, it means I get to spend time with Ralph, a fellow I used to coach in Special Olympics Sailing, and Debbie, his amazing mom. Lancaster is sort of halfway between Millstone and their home. The drives to and from Lancaster, with the window open and the radio off, provide a great chance to count many of life’s greatest blessings. You top the list. I am immensely grateful for the privilege of sharing this adventure with you. 

Some of the drivetime will surely be spent dwelling on you as priests/people-of-prayer with whom I share the gladness of celebrating Mass and the sacraments. I could spend 100 miles recalling great graces in daily Mass with the 8:35 Club, or the lights generated in Meeting Christ in Prayer and the Spiritual Exercises, or the delight of the dozens of women in Working with Purpose. Then again, there is all the goodness of the people who take communion to the homebound and the nursing homes and those who provide the beautiful funerals week after week. And that is just the start.

Some of the drive time will be spent smiling about the ways you are prophets who console and challenge others. Even as I prepare to hit “send” on this week’s THIS WEEK, I am aware of folks in the parish kitchen cooking eight turkeys for Elijah’s Promise on Sunday, of the group heading into the gathering space to trim the Giving Tree, of the Youth Group arriving to take care of the food baskets, and again, that is just tonight’s list.

Your lives as kings/community-builders will also take many miles to contemplate. I get to recall all the greetings you share before and after every Mass. I get to recall our first-rate fellowship events, including the Parish Picnic and the many other events when the Knights feed us so well. I get to recall the many ways in which we strengthen the connections that make us a stronger community of Jesus’ friends.

Wow. Now that I start to get specific about all the gifts to count, I am thinking maybe I should drive a little further. (I just checked; Cracker Barrel does not operate in Juneau. Hmmm.)

Either way, all best blessings and thanks to each of you for giving me so many blessings to count and, more importantly, for giving each other so many blessings to count, and for making God smile.

Father Hank

Summary of November 11 Homily:
Perfection? Part 2: God Loves Our Personal Best


What are we to do when we hear God calling us to be perfect? What about those passages in scripture that set the bar at great and oh-so-discouraging heights? Do we give up? Do we pretend? Give it a try? Go to plan B?

November’s readings give us some great recommendations. They invite us to wonder about our approaches to perfection. Two weeks ago, the readings suggested that progress toward perfection, even though we will never get there in this life, delights God. This week’s readings remind us that God asks us only for our personal best. God knows how easily the perfect becomes the enemy of the very good. Personal best matters.

The widow of Zarephath gave her personal best and it delighted God (1 Kings 17). Elijah landed in Zarephath hungry and tired and looking for help. The drought and the famine that ravaged the land made helpers hard to find. But the widow rose to the occasion. She gave Elijah something to drink and a piece of bread. Her kindness thrilled Elijah and God. God rewarded her personal best with survival: “She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty,nor the jug of oil run dry.” Notice, the Zarephath widow did not host a lavish dinner. It was beyond her means. She provided a cup of water and a piece of bread. Her personal best gladdened God.

The widow in Sunday’s gospel (Mark 12) participated in a similar dynamic. She gave what she could and her effort consoled Jesus greatly. While people with high incomes made a big production out of their contributions, the widow gave as much as she could and sought no attention. Jesus told his disciples that she – a widow who, in ancient Israel would have had no meaningful income stream – outperformed all the others. Her personal best also gladdened God.

What about you? When have you experienced the happiness of knowing you had offered your personal best? You have surely done that in many ways – in sports, in academics, at work, as a mom, as a dad, as a devoted child, as an unswerving caregiver. Just about every one of those ways is the work of a priest (a person of prayer), as prophet (a person who challenges and consoles others) and/or as king (a person who builds up the community)? When have you felt God nudging you to up your game? To offer something closer to your personal best? To take a chance on growth in prayer? On growth in service? On growth in community-building? Maybe you were aware that what you had to offer was not going to change the world, was by some measure “imperfect,” but you did it anyhow. And in doing so, you delighted God in the same way the widow of Zarephath and the widow in the temple did. You offered your personal best, and your offering gladdened God greatly. What is your story?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - November 9, 2018

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This Week – November 9, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

Thank you to all our veterans and boundless thanks to the loved ones of all who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. We look forward to praying for you and with you and to thanking you this weekend, at the 11:30 Mass and at the party that follows in the parish hall. Thanks in advance to Debra Grimmer and her many generous helpers who make the event happen. And of course thanks to the Knights for the lunch.

Sorry about the phishing emails some of you received from a fake “Father Hank” account asking you to donate gift cards or to call me. My email is fhilton@loyola.edu. If you see an email from fr.hhilton coming from a gmail account – delete it immediately. Also, I do not solicit contributions of any sort via email. Only in the last few days have I been made aware that there is a whole cottage industry of people out there who pretend, via email, to be priests. Rough stuff. Onward!
 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • Trees of Remembrance – Blessings for those of you have a chance to pray at the Trees of Remembrance. Great thanks to MaryAnn Comiskey and all who put the trees together. It is a giant undertaking. The Trees present an opportune moment for parents and CCD teachers to help younger parishioners learn our fundamental prayer for our deceased loved ones:

Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. 

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

  • Temple Beth-El – Thanks and blessings for the many parishioners who all who joined the very moving ecumenical prayer service at Temple Beth-El last Monday. The show of solidarity was impressive. Many of the brief reflections by area religious leaders were clearly inspired. Thanks too to the parishioners who were such cheerful givers when it came to sharing our bus with many others. May God hear our prayers, prevent recurrences of the Pittsburgh tragedy, put an end to anti-Semitism and an end to all violence.

  • Confirmandi – Congratulations and thanks to the 60+ young people who formally began their preparation for confirmation at Sunday’s 6:00 pm Mass. Thanks to the confirmandi for their participation. It is a great gift for all of us. Thanks to the parents, the sponsors-to-be and the CCD staff for putting it all together. Together, all of you make our parish and our larger church better.

  • CCD Resumes this Week – Calling all CCD students and teachers. Classes resume Tuesday. I hope your days off for the Teachers’ Convention were enjoyable.

Sunday’s Homily – “Perfection? Part I: God Loves Progress”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Thanksgiving Food Drive – Help us feed those in need this Thanksgiving by providing a food basket for a family. Our goal is to fill 100 baskets for families and we need your help! Download the shopping list here. If you can't do a whole basket we are also collecting other non-perishable items. All food can be brought to the Memorial Hallway starting Nov. 10 and must be there by Friday afternoon Nov. 16.

  • Our Advent Giving Tree – Since most of us have not yet gotten around to putting away the porch furniture, it is a little bit hard to believe that it is almost time for the Advent Giving Tree. But it is. Thanks in advance to all who are already working hard at making this year’s project a great success.

  • Our Knitting and Crocheting Stars – Blessings for those who join forces to produce the beautiful afghans and blankets that continue to delight the residents of area nursing homes. Your labor of love brings great happiness to many – and gives the faith and its communities such great credibility.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Gathering Space Flowers – The sister/brother team from the Flower Barn, Angelo Yaccone and Rosie Tamburini – take great care of us with church flowers each week. Extra special thanks to Ang and Rosie for last week’s flowers. In honor of the anniversary of their mom, they provided their mom’s favorite flowers, all from the tropics. Loads of people commented on the arrangement’s beauty.

  • Becca’s Friends – Three cheers for all involved in the Becca’s Friends Ministry. Tonight the ministry is hosting “Arc’s Got Talent!” – a talent show for many of our area friends with special needs who are served by the Arc. Tomorrow night is the big (pre-) Thanksgiving dinner cooked by guess who?

  • Thanksgiving Tailgate – Sort of. Given the great time had by all at last year’s gathering, we will once again have a BYOB get-together on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The 5:00 pm Mass will be followed by a 6:00 BYOB and much Thanksgiving merriment.

  • Youth Group Reunion – While the adults gather in the Hospitality Room, the college kids will be getting together in the Parish Hall. Remind your college student (in case they don’t read “This Week”) to join us for the 5:00 pm Mass and the post-Mass wingding.

  • Parking Lot Lights – The lights are just about finished. All the bad wires have been replaced and we have electricity to each pole. All we need to do now is replace two special-order lightbulbs and replace the pole we lost in one of last year’s blizzards. Thanks to all for your cooperation during the project.

  • Family Wreath-making for Advent – Eat pizza and make your Advent wreath! Who could ask for more? Join the fun on Sunday, November 18 from 12:30 – 3:00 PM in the Parish Hall.  Register at the parish’s Religious Education website or call Mr. Jungels in the parish office to RSVP. It is a mighty fine time

  • Artifacts Roadshow Will Be Back – Not sure what to do with those inherited statues, rosaries, crucifixes or other “holy items”? Keep them safe at home until Lent. We will then collect them in the gathering space and deliver them to the organization in PA that then finds them new homes in mission territories of every sort.

  • PJ Anderson is Returning – Mark your calendar for the return of Nashville recording artist P.J. Anderson. P.J. will be here to lead us in song and fun on Friday, November 30. See you there. 

With blessings for every parishioner,

Fr Hank

Summary of November 4 Homily:
Perfection? Part 1: God Loves Progress 


Moses lays down a most intimidating challenge in Sunday’s first reading. Jesus repeats the challenge in Sunday’s gospel. Both challenges sound like an unachievable call to perfection.

What should be our response when scripture or other voices call us to unachievable perfection? Politely ignore the call? Pretend to be perfect? Engage it? And if we engage it, which way do we go?

Both Moses (Deuteronomy 6: 2-6) and Jesus (Mark 12: 28-34) challenge us to love God completely. Moses says: “you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Jesus adds a fourth aspect: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” How are we to interpret the “all” aspect of both commands? And what are we to do if we come up short? If we feel as if we do not love God with all our heart and all our soul and all our might?

Maybe just maybe, after studying the complex backgrounds of the worlds “heart,” “soul,” and “strength” – and after reflecting on the way Jesus interacts with people through the gospels – perhaps we should hear Moses and Jesus as calling us to make progress rather than to covet perfection. Perhaps we should put less emphasis on being perfect, which we will never be in this lifetime and more emphasis on making progress.
Might it be that when Jesus asks us to “love God with all our heart” he is asking us to look at our relationships and wonder about the ways they glorify God and lead people to peace? And maybe He wants us to wonder about relationships that we don’t yet have and should have, especially with people at the edge? Maybe Jesus is saying that he wants us to try to make progress in all of them, enrich them in ways that delight God, both the important relationships and the less important ones.

Might it be that when Jesus asks us to “love God with all our soul” he is asking us to look at our aspirations and wonder about the ways they glorify God and lead people to peace. Might he want us to seek progress in all the aspirations that our souls hold? To hold them up to the light of his life and wonder how we might tweak each of our ambitions? To seek progress rather than perfection in all of our ambitions and aspirations?

Finally, might it be that when Jesus asks us to “love God with all our might” he is asking us to look at our actions and wonder about the ways our actions, especially our habitual actions, glorify God and lead people to peace? Maybe Jesus is not demanding perfection.

Maybe he is asking us to be mindful of our actions and the ways we can improve them.
What about you? Can you notice ways in which you have made progress in your relationships, your ambitions, and your actions? Do you see indicators of progress ineach area? And in terms of “all” your heart, soul, and mind, can you notice ways inwhich you used to “hide” some of them from God (i.e., not open your entire heart, soul or might to God) but now bring more of them to your conversations with God?

Both Moses and Jesus lay down pretty tall orders, orders that seem to demand perfection. But maybe the deeper truth is that they are asking us to let God’s light shine on all our relationships (heart), all our aspirations (soul) and all our actions (strength or might)? And maybe they are asking us to delight in our progress rather than regret our lack of perfection?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - November 2, 2018

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This Week – November 2, 2018
Feast of All Souls

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace! And may God bless you and console you abundantly as you do the very important November work of praying extra for your deceased loved ones. A prayer-visit to our Trees of Remembrance might be a very good thing for you. May that visit be for you a time of candor and consolation. And if you get a chance to pray at your loved ones’ graves, may that also be a time of renewed confidence in the resurrection and in God’s infinite love for you and those you love who have “gone before us marked with the sign of faith.”

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER:

  • Trees of Remembrance – Let us Pray – This year’s leaves have been arranged in alphabetical order. You can find your loved ones’ leaves even more easily than in the past. The leaves have also been placed within easy reach. Don’t hesitate to touch and turn them so you can see clearly the names of your loved ones.     

Remember to pray for them as you behold their names. We don’t know exactly how it works but we know that our prayers for them matter. While their physical remains stay here on earth until the Second Coming, their souls are migrating into the fullness of Christ’s peace – and our prayers assist that migration. Remember to pray, by name, for those you know and remember to say two more prayers – one for all the people named in the trees and another for all the deceased. The prayer for the month of November is:

Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
(NB – Parents, this is a superb prayer for your kids to know, especially for the first times they lose a loved one.) 

  • Trees of Remembrance – Thank you – The Trees of Remembrance require a gigantic amount of work. It takes many hard-working people to create the leaves, sort them, arrange them, arrange the trees, and keep the records of the names. Giant thanks to MaryAnn Comiskey who spearheaded this year’s efforts. Great thanks too to all who helped her – Arlene Battaglia, Bo Goldstone, Carmella Maresca, Carol Tiber, Carol Valone, Crissy Cace, Debra Grimmer, Dianne Mantilla, Edith, Elisa Goldstone, Elizabeth Rivera, Kim Caridi, Lorraine Murphy, Lynne Biegel, Margaret VanAllen, Mario Lugo, Mary Ann Meiser, Maryann Baranowski, Paulette Matis, Rita Berz, Sharon Sweeney, and Sue Irwin. Additional thanks to Bill Janone and Bryan Delisi who were always at the ready. (if you worked on the project and I missed your name, please let me know!) Thanks to all of you for making November that much more prayerful and meaningful.

  • Holyday Masses – Many of our liturgical ministers have rearranged their schedules so they could help with the five Masses for All Saints Day and the two Masses for All Souls Day. You are remarkably kind.

  • This Fall’s Adult Formation Participants – Best blessings for the nearly 100 parishioners who are currently participating in Walking With Purpose, The Spiritual Exercises or Meeting Christ in Prayer. Your affection for Jesus is a great gift for the entire parish. May God bless and reward your efforts.

Sunday’s Homily – “Inspired Aspirations Part Four: Inspired Rest”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Thanksgiving Food Drive – Help us feed those in need this Thanksgiving by providing a food basket for a family. Our goal is to fill 100 baskets for families and we need your help! Grab a shopping list from the Moses' Table on your way out of church (or download it here). If you can't do a whole basket we are also collecting other non-perishable items. All food can be brought to the Memorial Hallway starting November 10.

  • Our Advent Giving Tree – Since most of us have not yet gotten around to putting away the porch furniture, it is a little bit hard to believe that it is almost time for the Advent Giving Tree. But it is. Thanks in advance to all who are already working hard at making this year’s project a great success.

  • Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen – Continued blessings for Terry Lee and the many volunteers who provide lunch at Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen on the 3rd Sunday of each month. If you might be interested in joining this effort, please contact Terry at terrytulee@comcast.net

  • Healing Prayer Ministry – Sometimes Healing Prayer is more appropriate than the Sacrament of the Sick. Thanks to the many people in the Healing Prayer Ministry who regularly offer that prayer. e

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Can Anyone Lend us a Drum Set? – Our Becca’s Friends Ministry is hosting the November 9 “Arc’s Got Talent” talent show. One of the special performers is a drummer who wants to impress the crowd, but he cannot arrange the drums. We’ve tried several prospects but no dice. Do you or a friend have a drum set in your basement that we could use at church for one night? Call the office if you do.

  • Thanksgiving Tailgate – Sort of. Given the great time had by all at last year’s gathering, we will once again have a BYOB get-together on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The 5:00 pm Mass will be followed by a 6:00 BYOB and much Thanksgiving merriment.

  • Youth Group Alumni Reunion – While the adults gather in the Hospitality Room, the college kids will be getting together in the Parish Hall. Remind your college student (in case they don’t read “This Week”) to join us for the 5:00 pm Mass and the post-Mass wingding.

  • Parking Lot Lights – Those who came here for Mass this week noticed the building equipment in the parking lot. Regrettably, 4 or our twelve light posts have lost power. The lack of light generates inappropriate and avoidable risks. The workers are connecting the four fizzled lights to the electricity from one of the good lights. And while they are there, they will also put a light at the flagpole. The solar-powered one has not really put out enough light to leave the flag up at night. The project should only take a few more days. Meanwhile, drive carefully around the project.

  • The Mortgage – Last but not least, we hand-delivered the last mortgage check to TD Bank on Thursday. The check was actually handed over by Colleen and Carl Mueller of our Patriots’ Ministry, a group that has worked very hard for many years to help pay down the mortgage. Bless you all!

  • The Artifacts Roadshow Will Be Back – Not sure what to do with those inherited statues, rosaries, crucifixes or other “holy items”? Keep them safe at home until Lent. We will then be collecting them in the gathering space and deliver them to the organization in PA that then finds them new homes in mission territories of every sort.

  • Seventh Graders - Rite of Enrollment ― The Rite of Enrollment marks the beginning of the 7th Graders 2-year preparation for Confirmation. We will celebrate this at the 6PM mass this Sunday.

  • No CCD Classes next week ― There are no CCD classes on Nov 6, 8 or 11 since schools are closed for Election Day and Teacher Convention. Get out and vote on Tuesday and spend some quality family time as you enjoy your long weekend.

  • PJ Anderson is Returning – Mark your calendar for the return of Nashville recording artist P.J. Anderson. P.J. will be here to lead us in song and fun on Friday, November 30. See you there. 

With blessings for every parishioner,

Fr Hank

Summary of October 28 Homily:
Inspired Aspirations Part Four: Inspired Rest


We all need time out from our to-do lists. Constant exposure has a way of grinding us down. Rest, recreation and renewal begin when we disengage the lists.
Inspired rest begins when we then engage the “God’s-done-it” list – when, having disengaged the to-do lists, we contemplate the remarkable things God has already done for us.

Sunday’s first reading (Jeremiah 31) details God’s amazing work in the so-called “Second Exodus.” The first Exodus occurred when God led the Israelites across the Red Sea, from Egypt toward the Promised Land. The “Second Exodus” occurred when God liberated the people from their captivity in Babylon. God’s amazing work included the liberation, not just of the able-bodied who easily made the trip back to Israel, but also “the blind and the lame . . . the mothers and those with child.” The people who experienced that somewhat miraculous expedition would surely repeat Mary’s claim that “The Almighty had done great things for us.” Contemplation of God’s great deeds leads to unparalleled peace.

Sunday’s gospel (Mark 10) recounts the story Jesus healing Bartimaeus, the blind beggar who implored Jesus’ help. In reply to Jesus’ inquiry “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replied, predictably and simply “I want to see.” We can only imagine Bartimaeus’ thrill and gratitude when Jesus granted his request. Rather than head off on his own, Bartimaeus “followed Jesus on the way” to Jerusalem and the Passion. 

As it was for the people of the Second Exodus and as it was for Bartimaeus, so it is for us. Contemplation of God’s mighty works leads us to a sense of gratitude and an experience of peaceful, inspired rest that few other efforts can yield.

So what about you? First, where do you go to disengage your to-do lists? What place or people or experience helps you gain an inspired distance from the concerns that priests, prophets and kings regularly carry? What is the physical reality that helps you find rest, recreation and renewal. 

Second, what is on your “God’s-done-it” list? What works of God remind you that God loves you and is at work in our world and in your life even now? Does your list include experiences of spiritual gifts? Moments of true love that you knew came from God? Experiences of nature that you knew God had engineered? Moments of being forgiven? Enlightened” Loved? Sent?”

God has built each of us with an aspiration for inspired rest, a desire to imitate God’s seventh day of creation when God looked at all that was and said “it is good.” Where do you go and what do you contemplate to get to that inspired rest that renews your walk with Jesus?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 26, 2018

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This Week – October 26, 2018

Dear All: 

Christ’s Peace!

Three headline notices – one about Mass times, one for our vets, and one about our Becca’s Friends Ministry.
Mass Times -- Next Thursday (11/1) is the Feast of All Saints, a holyday of obligation, and Friday (11/2) is the Feast of All Souls. Mass times for Thursday are 7:30 Wednesday evening, 8:35 am and 7:30 pm Thursday. All are also welcome to attend the Masses for the CCD kids at 4:15 and 6:00 pm Thursday. Masses for the Feast of All Souls will be at 8:35 am and 7:30 pm on Friday 11/2.
Hello Veterans – Several of you have asked if last year’s registration works for this year’s celebration. The truth is that this year, we need you to fill out another card and put it in the box in the gathering space. That way, the Knights will have just the right amount of ridiculously great food. We look forward to celebrating with you on 11/11! At the 11:30 Mass and at the lunch afterwards. The celebration is for all veterans, their spouses, their widows and widowers, and all parents and spouses of active duty military.

Congratulations to all who serve in our Becca’s Friends Ministry (for young adults with special needs) – Get this – The Somerset County Board of Freeholders has conferred its 2018 Disability Advocates Award on our parish’s Becca’s Friends Ministry. The award is given to those who "demonstrate exemplary inclusion, service or advocacy for persons with disabilities." What a gift to know that others recognize their superb work! We congratulate our co-winner, Pluckemin Medical Services. Three cheers for our Becca’s Friends Ministry and those it serves!

 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • Blessings of the Brains and Aspirations – Greatest blessings for all our students and special great blessings for those who brought symbols of their aspirations to Sunday’s 9:30 and the 6:00 Masses. What a great happiness it was for us to see the abacus, the ballet slippers, the basketballs, the rare coins, the many varieties of athletic shoes, the lax sticks and field hockey sticks, the weightlifting cards and the many books from so many disciplines. Great thanks to each one of you for multiplying the congregations’ gladness and for helping us to understand the beautiful aspirations that God has placed in your marvelous hearts. Thanks to the many who are already suggesting symbols for next year.

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer – The program starts this Monday at 7:00 pm in the Hospitality Room. There is nothing for the 16 of you to do between now and then – just relax and trust it is a good investment.

  • The Trees of Remembrance – as November approaches, many dedicated parishioners are preparing our Trees of Remembrance, the birch-like trees on which hang the names of the deceased loved ones for whom we pray this month. Because we, fortunately, have so many names, we are re-arranging things a bit this year. The area near the baptism font will contain the trees with the names of parishioners’ children and grandchildren, and the tree with the names of those who have died in the last year. The other trees will be along the walls near the Saint Joseph statue. In response to popular and inspired requests, we are arranging the trees alphabetically and at heights that will allow people to find and touch the names of their loved ones.

Sunday’s Homily – “Inspired Aspirations Part Three: Inspired Successes”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Buy Your Pie – Our pie people are back in the Gathering Space this weekend to sell Thanksgiving pies. Proceeds go to Guatemala and the victims of Hurricane Florence. Bring cash or checks. 

  • Our Music Ministries – Thanks and blessings to all who enhance the Masses with their musical talent. What a great gift you are to all of us. Keep up the great work!

  • Thanksgiving Food Drive: Help us feed those in need this Thanksgiving by providing a food basket for a family. This year our High School Youth Ministry has set a goal to fill 100 baskets for families and we need your help! Grab a shopping list from the Moses' Table on your way out of church (or download it here). If you can't do a whole basket we are also collecting other non-perishable items. All food can be brought to the Memorial Hallway starting November 10.

  • Prayer Shawl Ministry - Ten members of our thriving Prayer Shawl Ministry delivered 52 beautifully knitted or crocheted prayer shawls and prayer squares to Avalon and Bridgeway this week. 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Welcome New Parishioners! – All best blessings for the newest members of our parish. May our years together be many and may they be years of great blessings for you and your loved ones. And may you be a source of great blessings for all of your new fellow parishioners.

    • John and Kathi Burkhart and their daughter Jenn

    • Joseph and Madeline DeLuca

    • Marie Fortin and Charles Banville and their children Juliette, Elaine, and Laurent

    • Saulus and Colette Galette and their children Valerie, Nicolas, and Jessica

    • Christian and Michelle Hauser

    • Danielle Levatino and her son Brady MacKenzie

    • Joseph and Marietta Maiorana

    • Phyllis Marganoff

    • Amanda Miller

    • Catherine Shore

    • Barbara Suhaka

    • Anthony and Donna Zamarin

  • The Artifacts Roadshow Will Be Back – Not sure what to do with those inherited statues, rosaries, crucifixes or other “holy items”? Keep them safe at home until Lent. We will then be collecting them in the gathering space and deliver them to the organization in PA that then finds them new homes in mission territories of every sort.

  • PJ Anderson is Returning – Mark your calendar for the return of Nashville recording artist P.J. Anderson. P.J. will be here to lead us in song and fun on Friday, November 30. See you there. 

With blessings for every parishioner, 

Fr Hank

Summary of October 21 Homily:
Inspired Aspirations Part Three: Inspired Successes 


You can succeed at many things. You cannot succeed at everything. So succeed at the inspired thing.

Like the fundamental human desires for inspired relationships, and like the fundamental desire to make inspired choices, each of us comes pre-equipped with an aspiration for inspired successes. When was the last time you or anyone you know woke up and thought “Gee, I hope I fail today, I hope I make costly blunders, I hope my life, in general, is one big flop?” Right. None of us does that. God has oriented us toward success.
Each of us defines “success” in different ways. Some of our notions of success align closely with God’s hopes. Others, not so much. Given the many talents God has given us, each of us can succeed at many things and achieve many of our definitions of “success.” The challenge is to pursue inspired successes.

How do we know which notions of success are inspired? We look to Christ and at Christ. His bold declaration in Sunday’s gospel (Mark 10: 35-45) eliminates the guesswork. We know how he wants us to define “success.” He instructs us “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” Jesus does not tell us to disavow greatness, reject preeminence or eschew success. He simply tells us that true success entails service. The inspired success is the success that makes life better for others, according to Jesus’ definition of “better.”

Jesus’ life shows us what that means. He could have achieved any imaginable success. He could have defeated the Romans or had himself crowned king. But he chose humble service. He traveled about healing and teaching and pointing the way to true peace. He continued to do so even when his opponents threatened to kill him. He served his way to Calvary where he provided the ultimate service. He opened heaven’s gates. Jesus success, which is all about service, is unmatched. He is exactly the person referred to in the first reading (Isaiah 53: 10-11), “the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him” and “through his suffering, my servant shall justify many.”

James and John seem not to have gotten the message. The gospel opens with them asking for the seats of honor in Jesus’ heavenly kingdom. That level of recognition might surely be gratifying and provide them with great influence. But where is the service in that? How does them getting great seats make others better off? Easy. It doesn’t. And Jesus lets them know that. The task is to succeed at the inspired thing, the thing that makes life better for others, according to Jesus’ notion of “better.”

Where do we go with that? One might infer that we should stop what we are doing and start pursuing inspired notions of success. But, for just about every St. Joe’s parishioner, that would be a big mistake. Just about every St. Joe’s parishioner is currently pursuing inspired definitions of success. The challenge is not to abandon those pursuits, but to see them for what they are.

Moms and Dads – you are pursuing your notion of successful parenting as you do the loving work of raising your children. Jesus observes your notion of success and your pursuit of it and is happy. The same is true of parishioners caring for relatives and friends in need. And it is true of students using their brains well, and athletes training their bodies, and professionals of all varieties – in the private and the public sectors. Of course, we can all do better. But that does not mean we are doing nothing. A big piece of the challenge is to recognize the ways in which our current definitions of success and pursuits of success serve others and to keep pursuing. The challenge is to connect the dots between your daily choices and God’s bliss. Maybe the better phrase is:

You can succeed at many things. You cannot succeed at everything. You are succeeding at inspired things. Connect the dots between your successes and God’s hopes.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 19, 2018

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This Week – October 19, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

Today is the feast of Saint Isaac Jogues, my patron saint and my best saint. Blessings of the day for all of you!
 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • Blessings of the Brains and Aspirations – We will have the “Blessings of the Brains and Aspirations” for all students K-12 at both the 9:30 and the 6:00 Masses on Sunday. Please put some fun thought into what you will bring as a symbol of your aspiration this year. In the future, the blessing and the symbols will be “a thing” at St. Joe’s. This year, we rely on the humorous and the adventurous to get the tradition launched. Special donuts for all and special special donuts for those who bring fun symbols of their aspirations for this school year.

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer – I have sent emails to everyone who expressed an interest in “Meeting Christ in Prayer.” If you expressed an interest and have not heard from me, please email me soon at fhilton@loyola.edu Our first session is at 7:00 pm on Monday, October 29.


Sunday’s Homily – “Inspired Aspirations Part Two: Wisdom and Inspired Choices”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.
    (Note: the homily from Oct. 14 will be posted early next week. Sorry for the inconvenience).

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.


THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • The Pie Sales Are Back – Our pie people will be in the Gathering Space this weekend and next weekend to sell you your Thanksgiving pies. Proceeds go to Guatemala and the victims of Hurricane Florence. Please pay with cash or checks only.

  • We Helped the Unborn – Big thanks to all who responded to the postcard drive. We mailed a total of 831 postcards to our state legislators.  The campaign was a great success and we hope it will go a long way in educating the legislators about these viable unborn lives. Special thanks to our Respect Life Ministry, to the volunteers who assisted at the Masses and to those from the 8:35 morning Mass who helped sort, label and stamp.

  • Our CCD Teachers – Thanks and blessings to all who have committed to teach CCD this year. Your generosity is an example for all of us. May your efforts be greatly blessed and fun. 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Celebrating Our Veterans – Attention all veterans, their spouses, and their widows and widowers – Please mark your calendar for Sunday, November 11. All are invited to come to the 11:30 Mass and to be the guests of the parish for lunch after Mass in the Parish Hall. You women and men have done so much for our nation and us – let us honor you. BE SURE TO RSVP IN THE GATHERING SPACE ASAP

  • PJ Anderson is Returning – Mark your calendar for the return of Nashville recording artist P.J. Anderson featuring our own Mike DeLucia opening the night. P.J. will be here to lead us in song and fun on Friday, November 30. See you there. 

With blessings for every parishioner, 

Fr Hank

Summary of October 14 Homily:
Inspired Aspirations Part Two: Wisdom and Inspired Choices


 
Aspirations – those deep-down desires that dwell in every human heart. Our aspirations are, according to Webster, those deep-down desires “to achieve something or to become something.”

Our inspired aspirations, our inspired desires to achieve and to become, are those aspirations that align with God’s hopes. Two Sundays ago, the readings reminded us that God has placed in each of us an inspired aspiration for inspired human relationships. This week, the readings remind us that God has programmed us with a desire to make wise, inspired choices – and that God looks at us with love when we are truly striving to make wise, inspired choices.

Sunday’s first reading comes from the Book of Wisdom’s seventh chapter, the portion of the book that quotes King Solomon. Solomon’s inspired quest for wisdom reaches its zenith in 1 Kings 3:5, when God invites Solomon to request any gift imaginable and Solomon requests wisdom, so he can make wise choices and rule wisely. Solomon’s request thrills God. God is so taken with Solomon’s request that God gives Solomon the wisdom he seeks plus everything else he might have requested. Clearly, Solomon’s aspiration to make wise choices, and his struggle to do so, makes God look at Solomon with unusually great affection.

The same thing happens in the gospel (Mark 10: 17-39). The man who approaches Jesus demonstrates an unmistakable craving to make inspired choices, wise choices, choices that align with Christ’s hopes. The encounter gets off to a rocky start but Jesus softens when he becomes convinced of the man’s sincerity. Once that happened, the bible says, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him.”

What about you? Of course, you aspire to wisdom. You have a deep-down desire to make the inspired choice, the choice that aligns with Christ’s hopes. But the answer is not always apparent and sometimes requires serious deliberation. We want to make the right choice but we sometimes grapple with many competing options, all of which have much to recommend them. It happens when we are sorting through our professional options or our choice of major. It happens when we are figuring which choice is best for the children. It happens when we are trying to figure out how best to serve relatives who are going through a rough patch, how to serve the needy, how to serve the Lord.

Can you name a choice that seems hard to make these days? Are you aware that you really are trying to make the wise, inspired choice? And as you look at that choice, can you imagine Jesus looking at you with love? Can you trust that your desire to make the inspired choice calls down Jesus’ extra affection? That awareness might not provide the answer, but it does provide a better context in which to make the choice. It bathes the choice with graced air and light. In what choice do you need to recall that your desire to make the inspired choice, and your willingness to struggle with it, activates God’s special affection for you?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 12, 2018

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This Week – October 12, 2018

Dear All:     

Christ’s Peace.

This week’s This Week in Prayer, Service & Community begins with a special section “This Week in Our Mortgage History.”

THIS WEEK IN OUR MORTGAGE HISTORY

As of about 2:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon, Thursday, October 11, we have ironed out the final details with our bankers.  The way it now stands, we will hand-deliver our final mortgage payment to TD Bank on Thursday, November 1.  Our lender will then hand us the “formal payoff letter” – and that is it.  No more mortgage.  Done – because of your generosity – four years ahead of schedule.

All the credit goes to each of you.  A robust “Thank you” to everyone who contributed to the debt-reduction.  Your generosity is quite an inspiration.  Special thanks go to the members of the Patriot Ministry who, for so many years, have been working very hard to raise debt-reduction funds at the Patriot’s snack bar stands.  Were it not for their effort, we would not be where we are tonight, three weeks from the finish line.  And hearty thanks to Monica McDevitt and to our Parish Finance Council.  Monica, our parish business manager has graciously and efficiently managed the sometimes very complex process of making sure that every debt-reduction donation has been applied precisely how and when the donor intended.  The Parish Finance Council has given me excellent advice about how best to pace the payoff.   This is a very big day for our parish and you all deserve great praise.

Please check the bulletin insert this week to obtain instructions on how to stop your debt-reduction contributions.  Our final payment to TD Bank will be only for about $1,500, not the usual $8,000.  A few donations will surely continue to drift in and we can accept donations of up to about $1,500.  After that, we will need to return the donations to you.

And above and beyond all else, we “thank God from whom all blessings flow.”

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Blessings of the Brains and Aspirations – Attention all students in grades K-12.  Come to the 9:30 Mass on Sunday, October 21.  We will have a special blessing for your brains as you enter the new school year.  We will also bless your aspirations – e.g., to be great at Chemistry, to excel in basketball, to reach new heights in creating robots, to explain Shakespeare, to master the oboe, to swim the fastest mile in town history.  And here is the challenge . . .  PLEASE bring a symbol of your aspiration – your football helmet, your color guard shoes, your calculator, your tuba, your skates, your abacus or your collected works of Lord Byron.  You get the drift.  Make it fun (and church-worthy!)  Special donuts afterwards!

  • Our Bishop’s Visit – Great thanks to Bishop Checchio for celebrating the 9:30 Mass last weekend.  It was, as always, a blessing to have him with us.  Special thanks for his reference to our parish as “A city on a hill.”  Bishop Checchio’s very fine homily is available online through the parish website.

  • Walking with Purpose –  Blessings for the 60+ Women who have started this year’s WWP.  What a consolation it was to hear Fr. Bill Burns of Potomac Maryland , the speaker at this week’s gathering of the Metuchen priests, refer to WWP as a remarkably grace-filled experience for his parish.  And what a slightly guilty and interior pleasure it was to realize that we are the only parish in the diocese to have WWP.  Were it not for the hard work of Mary MacPhee, and now Suzanne Kral, WWP would not be what it is.

  • Spiritual Exercises – Great blessings for the 15 parishioners who, this week, started the 35-week retreat.  May God bless you and inspire you through all the adventures the Spiritual Exercises yield.

  • Sunday’s Taize Prayer – It was an amazing grace to share Sunday night’s Taize prayer with so many of you.  The music was superb and the words of Anthony Roberts were of historical significance.  Can we ever thank Anthony for enlightening us as he did?  Special thanks to Tony Varas and Thom DeLessio from the diocese and to Mary Beth Delisi and Bill Strawderman for reading so beautifully.  As always, thanks to Bob Ferretti for the tech set up.  If you missed the marvelous music and inspired words, you can listen to them through the parish website.  I encourage you to do so.

  • Animal Blessings – Congratulations to all who brought your pets to church on Saturday morning.  What a remarkably well-behaved bunch of animals.  And what joy you clearly derive from their company.

Sunday’s Homily – “Inspired Aspirations Part One: Inspired Relationships”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.  

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • The Pie Sales Are Back –   Stop by the table in the Gathering Space to arrange your purchase of pies for Thanksgiving.  As always, the proceeds will support needy people in Guatemala.  In addition, a portion of this year’s proceeds will also help the victims of Hurricane Florence.

  • Help the Unborn – Thanks to our parish Respect Life Ministry for organizing the postcard drive that has made it so easy for us to contact our state legislators – to remind them that pregnancies of only five months can now produce babies that can survive in the world.  This technological advance surely requires a reconsideration of our laws.

  • Becca’s Friends – Great thanks to Mr. James Lew for leading the participants in the Becca’s Friends Ministry in their latest painting adventure – whimsical snowmen.  The images will be reprinted on cards that will be sold at the annual Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, December 2.  If the printing gets ahead of schedule, you might actually see them on sale on Veterans Day or Thanksgiving Weekend.

  • Our Liturgical Laundry Ministry – Thanks and blessings for all launderers of all the cloths we use at every Mass – the purificators for the chalices, the corporals for the altar, and the large altar cloths themselves.  It is one of those ministries that we don’t always notice but without which we would be up a tall, liturgical tree.  Great thanks to all of you.


THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Celebrating Our Veterans – Attention all veterans, their spouses, and their widows and widowers – Please mark your calendar for Sunday, November 11.  All are invited to come to the 11:30 Mass and to be the guests of the parish for lunch after Mass in the Parish Hall.  You women and men have done so much for our nation and us – let us honor you.

  • PJ Anderson is Returning –  Mark your calendar for the return of Nashville recording artist P.J. Anderson.  P.J. will be here to lead us in song and fun on Friday, November 30.  See you there. 

  • Youth Ministry – A most robust welcome to all the young people who have gotten our new Youth Ministry Year off to a rollicking great start.  What a great privilege and blessing it is to see all the new young people join the journey. If you are in high school consider coming this Sunday night at 7pm.

  • Last Friday’s Bingo – Predictably, it was large fun and a great experience to be with parishioners of all ages in such a fun moment. Great job to all the high school youth. To all who were there, thanks for multiplying the good time.

  • Blue Storm – All best blessings for all our basketball players and all the adults who make the program happen.  May this registration season and this season of play be greatly blessed.

With blessings for each parishioner – and great thanks for the good you do and the inspiration you provide.  

Fr Hank

Summary of October 7 Homily:
Inspired Aspirations Part One: Inspired Relationships


 Aspirations – those deep-down desires that dwell in every human heart, desires to achieve something or to become something. Inspired aspirations, inspired desires to achieve and to become, are those aspirations that align with God’s hopes. In every human person dwells an inspired aspiration for inspired human relationships, relationships that align with God’s hopes. We all want them.

Adam clearly held this sort of aspiration. Sunday’s excerpt from Genesis 2, the second version of the creation story, depicts God’s awareness that Adam was lonely and craving inspired, human relationships. God provided animals to keep Adam company, but the animals could not satisfy Adam’s need for inspired human company. When God created Eve to be Adam’s partner, Adam shouted “At last!”, leaving no doubt that his relationship with Eve was the one he craved.

Sunday’s Gospel from Mark 10 addresses the perennially thorny question of divorce. The passage provides much to consider, including Jesus’ remark that “what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” This phrase, in turn raises the questions, “Has God joined together every couple that has ever been married?” and “Has God created all human relationships?” The answers are clearly “No.” That “no” then prompts us to wonder “How can we tell the difference between relationships that are truly inspired – i.e., are truly formed by God – and those that are not?”

In the realm of marriage and divorce, the annulment process can help us understand which marriages are truly of God and which are not. In the realm of relationships in general, we also wonder about the extent to which our human relationships help us to become the priests, the prophets and the kings that God calls us to be. Relationships that do all that are certainly inspired.

What about you? When you take a long, loving look at your most treasured relationships, the ones you trust “God has joined,” you can surely see evidence that those relationships support your prayer life. Even if the other does not pray as you pray, that other probably support your attempts to pray, to speak and to listen to God. Similarly, do you see the prophetic dimension in your inspired relationships – i.e., a practice of consoling and challenging each other in meaningful ways? Chances are good that if you can truly challenge each other according to God’s hopes, and can console each other in Christ-like ways, that the relationship is truly inspired. Finally, do you notice your most inspired relationships also generate experiences of community for other people? Because you and the other are connected, other people in your world and beyond it also feel connected.

Every human heart aspires to inspired human relationship. Every heart craves meaningful connection. Sunday’s readings underscore the truth that God affirms those aspirations. Are you seeing the priestly, prophetic, and kingly dimensions in your most inspired relationships? Are you thanking God for them? Are you taking good care of them? And maybe, just maybe, might God be asking you to take a next step in those most inspired relationships – the relationships that fulfill our most basic human aspirations?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 21, 2018

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This Week – September 21, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

Happy Feast of Saint Matthew. His story reminds us that God can help every one of us to overcome whatever it is that keeps us from listening generously to God. Ephphatha!

Unexpected conversations this week reminded me how blessed we are to have the neighbors we have. Some congregations and pastors face tough neighborhood situations. Not us. The homeowners on Yorktown, VanDoren, and Colonial look out for us and react with great kindness when our big events generate extra noise or traffic.

They only ask one favor and they ask it sincerely – SLOW DOWN. Almost all of us are courteous that way. We only have a few dangerous drivers, and most are repeat offenders! Remember, Jesus will still be in the Blessed Sacrament even if you are a few minutes late. Our neighbors have young children and they are right to be concerned about reckless drivers. Given how good they are to us, we want to take every opportunity to be good in return. Thanks for your consideration.


 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • Confirmation Date Set! Bishop Checchio just let us know that he will come to celebrate Confirmations on Thursday, April 4. Thanks to the bishop and his staff for finalizing the date seven months in advance. The great lead time surely helps families to plan accordingly.

  • Blessing of the Animals – In honor of Saint Francis’ feast day, I will bless your animals on Saturday, October 6, just after the 8:35 Mass – call it 9:15. Please be sure to bring your four-legged animals on fixed length leashes. Animals of every (non-man-eating) species are welcome. 

  • Our Bishop’s Next Visit – Bishop Checchio will be here to celebrate the 9:30 Mass on Sunday, October 7. As always, it will be a great blessing to pray with our bishop 

  • Taize Prayer (Pr: “TAY-zay”) – Mark your calendar – for 7:30 pm on Sunday, October 7. The Diocesan Festival Choir is coming back to St. Joe’s to lead us in an evening of Taize prayer – a beautiful form of simple, consoling, sung prayer. Given this moment in our church history, the songs will be prayers of lament, healing, and hope. It’s probably best if we encourage youngsters to pray in other ways that night. Stadium food will be available between the 6 pm Mass and the concert.

  • Attention All Christian Ladies! – Walking with Purpose – our very highly praised bible study for women – is gearing up for its 4th year and will be offering two studies (Keeping in Balance AND Opening Your Heart) and twomeeting times (Monday evenings AND Tuesday mornings).  Learn more and sign up at the pink and green tables in the gathering space this weekend.

  • Sunday’s Homily – “Ephphatha, Part 3: “ . . . and I have not turned back.”

    • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.  (Good news, last week's homily recording was recovered! Listen to Ephphatha Parts 2 & 3!)

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

  • Becca’s Friends – “Becca's Friends” – our parish ministry that serves parishioners with special needs who are 18 or older – is five years old and going very strong. It now provides monthly gatherings, recreation and service projects for parishioners, their friends, and people living in nearby group homes. The ministry has attracted a most remarkable collection of volunteers, including members of the James Lew family who provided a "painting party" on Friday, Sept. 7th. Upcoming events include the annual campfire and sing along (Friday, 9/21), the Halloween Dance Party with DJ Count Graham (Friday, 10/26), a Thanksgiving Dinner for family members (Saturday, 11/10), and the Christmas/ Holiday Dance Party, also with DJ Count Graham (Friday, December 14). Please spread the word to your friends with special needs. Learn more from Dahlia Wong (dahliawong@yahoo.com), Janet Pescinski (jpescinski@gmail.com) or Kathy Abuschinow (hellopuffy@aol.com). 

  • VIRTUS Training – Thanks to all who have completed the training and associated processes. The more parishioners who complete the process, the better off we all are. Members of every ministry that involves minors and vulnerable adults must be Virtus trained. We sometimes need Virtus trained people who can occasionally sub in various programs. Even if you are not currently sure how Virtus training might enable you to serve, please consider the training. It only takes a few hours. The next sessions will be offered next week – on Monday, 9/24 at 6:30pm and Tuesday, 9/25 at 12:30pm. Click here to register.

  • Help the Unborn – Technological advances have enabled babies to live outside the womb at 5 months gestation. The world will be better off if legislators are reminded of these advances and of the need to protect unborn children who can survive outside the womb. Please consider joining the postcard campaign to remind our legislators. Learn more in the Gathering Space the weekend of October 6/7.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Family Bingo Night – Could Family Bingo Night be as enjoyable as the Parish Picnic? Come and find out! Bring your family members of all ages. And if you don’t have family in the area, bring friends of any age to Family Bingo Night on Friday, October 5. The bingo, along with the food and the prizes, will make Bingo Night, once again, a great night for all.

  • Finance Council – As we are greatly blessed to have a very dedicated Parish Council, we are also greatly blessed to have a first-rate finance council. Like the Parish Council, the Finance Council consists of at-large members and committee chairs. The at-large members (and their probable year of term-completion) are Chair Beth Martello (2019), Jim Paterno (2019), Brenda DelMasetro (2020) and Mike Seelig (2020). The Council currently needs two people to fill three-year terms that end on June 1, 2021. The Committee Chairs are Phil Zuccarello, (Audit), Dan Galati (Budget), Dave Mendez (Buildings and Grounds), John Jorgensen (Human Relations) and Eric Kainer (Revenue).

  • Mortgage Payoff – Greatest thanks to all who have enabled the parish to pay off its mortgage well ahead of schedule. The last batch of pink envelopes, the debt-reduction envelopes, has gone out. Those who have contributed electronically will soon receive instructions for terminating their electronic debt reduction payments. Stay tuned for more specifics. We are within about eight weeks of finishing our mortgage payments. God is good and so are you!

With blessings for each parishioner – and special greetings to our college students who are reading this on campus!

Fr Hank

Summary of September 16 Homily:
Ephphatha, Part Three: “ . . . and I have not turned back.”


Some days we get it right – very, very right. Some days we are truly available to God’s voice as it comes to us through the scripture, through our Catholic tradition, through our experiences of prayer and sacrament, and through our experiences of the world around us. Sunday’s scriptures remind us that God wants us to notice when we get it right, learn from the successes, and repeat them.

Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 50) is one of the four “Suffering Servant Songs” in Isaiah. It begins with the servant’s claim that “The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear, and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” The passage lets us know that attention to God’s voice sometimes leads to great difficulties and sometimes to great consolation – and that what matters most is the listening itself. The passage also encourages us to, like the servant, acknowledge those moments when we have listened, when the Lord has said “Ephphatha” and we have effectively said, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And we have then been, as Saint James says “Doers of the word.” Go ahead. Notice your successes and let those successes breed confidence in your life as an apostle.

Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 8) describes a moment when Saint Peter gets it very right, when he truly listens to Jesus and the Father. When Jesus asks him “who do YOU say that I am?” Peter replies “You are the Christ.” That is a world-changing statement. In Matthew’s version of the story, Jesus tells Peter that it is a statement he can make only because he (Peter) has listened to God. “Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” Jesus seems quite pleased with Peter’s response and with the attentive listening that produced it. However, the verses immediately following this passage remind us that Peter’s successes do not immunize him from failure. Immediately after providing evidence that he listens well, he shows that he sometimes refuses to listen to God. But when Peter gets it right, Jesus wants him to know it, to relish the moment, to contemplate the success and let it breed more of the confidence he will urgently need.

What about you? You have many moments when you strive sincerely to know what God wants, to want what God wants and to do what God wants. On not-so-great days, each of us falters in our efforts to listen to God. But we have loads of good days, when we truly listen to God, when we truly let our scripture and our tradition determine our choices. Sometimes the listening leads us to lovely results and sometimes to difficulties, but the listening is what matters most. Jesus has effectively put his fingers in your ears and said “Ephphatha” and you have said “Yes.” Name three times when that has been your story – when you have been a doer of the word you have heard in the scripture, in our tradition, or in your prayer (private or shared prayer). Perhaps the listening added extra duties to your life. Perhaps it added extra peace. What matters most is that you listened sincerely.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 14, 2018

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This Week – September 14, 2018

Dear All:     

Christ’s Peace.

Happy Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.  The feast invites us to recall that, because Jesus did what he did, death no longer gets the last word.  From the cross arises the triumph.  From death arises the eternal life.  He triumphed at Calvary. He continued to triumph. The final triumph will be his.  The feast is a reassuring day for all of us.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Our Bishop’s Next Visit –  Bishop Checchio will be here to celebrate the 9:30 Mass on Sunday, October 7.   As always, it will be a great blessing to pray with our bishop  

  • Taize Prayer (Pronounced “TAY-zay”) – Mark your calendar – for 7:30 pm on Sunday, October 7.  The Diocesan Festival Choir is coming back to St. Joe’s to lead us in an evening of Taize prayer – a beautiful form of simple, consoling, sung prayer.  The evening will consist of music and prayer for our church and its healing.  For those who will be coming to the prayer/concert after the 6 pm Mass, The Youth Group will be selling hot dogs and pizza before the prayer/concert.  And if you are going to the bishop’s Mass or another Mass on October 7, you are still invited to enjoy some stadium food before the prayer/concert. 

  • Men’s Prayer Group  —  Blessings for all who returned to the Men’s Prayer Group on Monday night at 7:30 – and blessings for those who will be joining them this week.  Got questions?  Email Bill Grimmer at bill.grimmer@comcast.net  

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer – There are still three open slots for people who want to make the 8-week program “Meeting Christ in Prayer.”  It starts Monday 10/29 and concludes on Monday, 12/17.  

  • Spiritual Exercises –  Check last week’s bulletin or the parish web page for the meeting dates for this year’s Spiritual Exercises.   The meetings begin on October 10 and conclude on May 22.  One spot is still open.  If you have questions or want to join, email me at fhilton@loyola.edu.

  • Walking With Purpose – Walking with Purpose – our very highly praised bible study for women – is gearing up for its 4th year and will be offering two studies (Keeping in Balance AND Opening Your Heart) and two meeting times (Monday evenings AND Tuesday mornings).  Information and registration forms will be available in the gathering space on the weekends of 9/15-9/16 and 9/22-9/23.

  • Michael Tabernero’s First Mass – The date is set – Saturday, June 22 at 4:45.  All are invited to Mass. Following the Mass, Michael’s family will be providing a reception for their many invited friends and relatives.  God’s great blessings for Michael.

  • Children’s Liturgy of the Word will be back beginning on 9/30/2018 at the 9:30 mass.  If you are interested in volunteering for this wonderful ministry, contact Natalie at nzuccarello@comcast.net.  We could use at least one more adult and a few high schoolers!

  • Sunday’s Homily – “Ephphatha, Part 2: “Listening to God in our seasons of loss”

    • To listen to past homilies, click here.  (Note: due to a technical glitch, the homily was not recorded this week. Sorry for the inconvenience).

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

  • CCD Classes – 42 of this year’s 44 classes have teachers. We need only two more teachers AND a few aids – but we really need them! Might you share the faith with our young people?

  • Food Pantries – It is a great grace for me each weekend – to encounter people bringing groceries to church – groceries that are given to area food pantries. Until recently, we helped three local pantries. As of this month, we are helping a fourth – the food pantry at Christ the Redeemer Church in Manville. There is huge demand for food from their pantry and we are happy to help.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY

  • A Fantastic Picnic – Three cheers and then some to all who made Sunday’s Parish Picnic such fun. Despite the crummy weather and the indoor setting, the vibe was superb and the fellowship excellent. Once again, we owe much to our Knights of Columbus for making it happen. We have a K of C chapter like no other. Special thanks to Tom Kelly and to the grill guys and all who cooked, set up, and cleaned up. Big thanks too to Gail Bellas for taking care of the name tags and to Mike DeLucia and Got 35 for keeping us entertained. According to the best available count, we had nearly 350 people at the picnic. Most of all, thanks to all who made time to spend time with old church pals and to meet new church pals. Your generosity benefits all of us.

  • Parish Council ― We are greatly blessed to have such a dedicated Parish Council. The twelve members consist of six at-large members and six committee chairs. The at-large members (and their probable year of term-completion) are Chair Nina DeLucia (2019), Amy Dahl (2021), Bill Strawderman (2021), Bernie Demsky (2020), Secretary Suzanne Kral (2020), and Dotty Lucazik (2019). The Committee Chairs are Pam Cunning (Adult Ministries), Cindy Norfleet (Communications), AnnaMaria Realbuto (Planning), Kristen Ross (Religious Education), Paul Toste (Social Ministries), and Natalie Zuccarello (Fellowship). Great thanks to every Council member.

  • Family Bingo Night ― Mark your calendars for Friday, Oct. 5 at 6:30 pm for our family-friendly Bingo Night sponsored by our youth ministry. Food, Bingo and Games and Prizes! $5 per person or $15 for your family. All money raised supports our youth service trips.

  • Tech Upgrades – Thanks and more thanks to Kevin Buist, John Demetrio, Billy Gibson, Bob Ferretti and Bryan DeLisi for getting our Wifi project over the finish line this week. Your effort enriches our parish!

  • High School Youth Ministry kicks off this Sunday after the 6:00 pm mass. It’s going to be a great year. Encourage your kids to come ― and to bring a friend!

With blessings for each parishioner – especially those who return to school (on both sides of the desk!)

Fr Hank

Summary of September 2 Homily:
Ephphatha, Part Two: Listening to God in our seasons of loss


Experiences of loss can be divided, according to our Catholic tradition, into two categories. “Privative Loss” occurs when we have a wonderful thing and it goes away. That wonderful “thing” could be a relationship, a person, an ideal job, robust health, you name it. “Negative loss” occurs when we realize that some good I’ve always hoped for is not going to materialize. Perhaps I was aching to get into a certain law school, or I always wanted to be a singer, or I hoped my children would be a certain way – and then we realize “It is not going to happen.”

Both types of loss tend to generate a tough call, either to (a) give up on God for not helping us out or (b) be sad and eventually welcome God back into the picture. Giving up on God means we lose interest in listening to God. Being sad and available to God means we keep listening.

Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 35) speaks to people who endured the catastrophic, privative loss of the Babylonian Exile. Those children of Israel had enjoyed life in the Promised Land and then they lost it all. The Isaiah passage alludes to their return from exile, to their decision to stay close to God despite the agonizing, privative loss.

Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 7) speaks of negative loss. The deaf man in the Gentile territory never had hearing, never had the ability to speak, and never had faith. Oddly enough, the experience of negative loss prompted the man’s friends to bring him to Christ and the deaf man cooperated. The negative loss brought them to Jesus, not away from him.

What about you? You have been like the children of Israel – you have suffered privative losses and, even though you could have held God responsible and soured on God, you continued to listen to God. When have you done that? When have you let privative loss draw you closer to God rather than push you away? You have also been like the deaf man. Aware of your own imperfections and flaws, you have let that sadness bring you closer to Jesus rather than drive you apart. When have you done exactly that? You have weathered significant losses and, at a moment when you might have considered distancing yourself from Jesus and his voice, you in some way heard him say “Ephphatha,” (“be open”) and you kept your heart and mind and soul and ears open to him and his voice and it made all the difference. When have you kept listening to him when privative loss broke your heart? When have you kept listening to him when negative loss made you incredibly sad? And what does your past success say about your ability to keep listening when the going gets treacherous?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 7, 2018

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This Week – September 7, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

The Knights ignite the grills in fewer than 48 hours! Yahoo!
Rain or shine, the PARISH PICNIC welcomes all and will be at least as much fun as ever.

All the customary jackpots will be here for the enjoying – outstanding fellowship, terrific food from the grill and desserts from the parishioners, excellent music, the volleyball mob/game that kicks off the Youth Group’s new year, and the Big Kahuna waterslide.

In addition to all the usual highlights, this year’s picnic will feature – through the efforts of the Heifer Project and the kindness of the Kafka Group – a petting zoo for the little kids and the kids. Big kids and taxpayers are also encouraged to visit the animals. The current list of visiting animals includes an alpaca, a miniature cow, some sheep, and some goats. Only by attending the picnic can you learn if the sheep really stay to the right and the goats to the left. There are also unverified rumors of a pony and a pig. So bring the entire family – including your grandchildren even if they are not St. Joe’s folk – and let the happy afternoon unfold.

Please join me in extending an extra special welcome to our newest parishioners. Their name tags have little gold seals. And a word of encouragement to long-time parishioners, to wear a name sticker to make it easier for people, especially our newest parishioners, to remember your name.

Thanks and hope to see you there!

(P.S. – Something tells me this is MY year in the croquet tournament – challengers welcome!)

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Men’s Prayer Group — The Monday night men’s prayer group – a joining of last year’s Cornerstone group and the men’s Meeting Christ in Prayer group – reconvenes this Monday, 9/10 at 7:30 pm in the Hospitality Room. The fall sessions run from 9/10 through 10/22. The tentative plan is to focus on the readings for Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you have any questions, please contact Bill Grimmer at bill.grimmer@comcast.net 
  • Meeting Christ in Prayer – The fall section of “Meeting Christ in Prayer” starts Monday 10/29 – the Monday after the men’s group ends. The last of the eight Monday-night sessions will meet on Monday, 12/17. The program, which focuses on a small number of prayer practices and involves small group conversation, is based on The Spiritual Exercises. The only pre-req for this series is a desire for a deeper connection with Jesus in prayer. There are still four open spots for the fall section. Email me at fhilton@loyola.edu if you want to sign up.
  • Spiritual Exercises – The dates for the 2018/19 offering of The Spiritual Exercises are now set. The sessions will meet on the following Wednesdays: October 10 and 24; November 7 and 21; December 5 and 19; January 2, 16 and 30; February 13 and 27; March 13 and 27; April 10 and 24, and; May 8 and 22. The basic requirements for the program are the ability to commit to (a) ten minutes of prayer every evening, (b) 40 minutes of prayer five times a week and (c) missing no more than two of the Wednesday meetings. Everyone who can do these three things and who has completed “Meeting Christ in Prayer” is encouraged to consider The Exercises. If you would like to make The Exercises but have not completed “Meeting Christ in Prayer,” let me know if you have had other prayer or retreat experiences that have prepared you for meditative prayer. There are still four openings for The Exercises. Email me at fhilton@loyola.edu if you want to sign up.
  • Walking With Purpose – Walking with Purpose – our very highly praised bible study for women – is gearing up for its 4th year and will be offering two studies (Keeping in Balance AND Opening Your Heart) and two meeting times (Monday evenings AND Tuesday mornings).  Information and registration forms will be available in the gathering space on the weekends of 9/15-9/16 and 9/22-9/23.
     
  • Sunday’s Homily – “Ephphatha, Part 1: “Rising above the listening hurdles”
    • To listen to the homily, click here
    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

  • CCD Classes – 40 of our 44 classes are already covered! Four still need a teacher and/or an aid. This amount of coverage at this part of September is actually a terrific success rate. The success is a great credit to the parish in general and to the volunteers in particular. Good for you! If you can see your way to filling one of the open slots, to helping share the faith as a CCD teacher, please contact Mr. Jim Jungels, our Religious Ed director, at jjungels@stjosephsparish.com Thanks and more thanks.
  • Adult Ministries – After some very impressive efforts by the Parish Council’s Planning Group, we are about to start advertising a part-time position for a coordinator for all our programs and services for adults – ages 35 and over. The job description is undergoing final edits and will be posted by month’s end. 
  • Youth Ministries - It’s going to be another great year for our high school aged youth. The season kicks off at the Parish Picnic. The first “regular” meeting will be on Sept. 16th including a few pies in the face. See the September - December calendar on our website

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • New Parishioners – God continues to bless us with new parishioners. Please join me in welcoming 
    • Lisa Cimpko
    • Marianne Fleischman
    • Ismael and Tara Garcia and their children Abigail and Jacob
    • John and Diane Rosig
  • Tech Upgrades – Thanks to the generosity of some very generous parishioners, we are about to complete two long-awaited upgrades – (a) New Wifi in the Hospitality Room and environs and better Wifi in the parish hall neighborhood and (b) new AV equipment in half the CCD classrooms. Thanks to the many who have supported the effort. It opens up many inspired opportunities.

The news in and around the parish is very good. God continues to bless us in countless ways. God’s goodness continues to enable us to grow as priests (people of prayer who speak to God and listen to God), as prophets (people of service who console and challenge others) and as kings (people who do what we can to build up our communities according to God’s hopes). Thanks to God’s goodness and yours, we are “a church that does what a church should do . . . “ We are blessed with firm foundations and we have plenty of opportunities to grow and improve.

And in addition to the good news on Yorktown Road, we remain aware of the dreadful news from so many places. We do what we can to grasp the horrible realities and we pray that we and all church leaders will formulate wise and effective replies to the victims of every sort. We strive for clear thinking about our clergy’s sins and crimes and we remember that God has always sent wise and loving people to rescue our church from its darkest choices. We stay mindful of our current darkness and God’s eternal light.

With blessings for each parishioner – especially those who return to school (on both sides of the desk!)

Fr Hank

Summary of September 2 Homily:
Ephphatha, Part One: Rising above the listening hurdles


God’s voice always calls us in the same direction, toward greater peace. God sometimes calls us along paths that wind through rough terrain that scares or disorient us, but the destination is always the same, greater peace.

Throughout our salvation history, we have fallen for the fallacy that we might be better off not listening to God, at least not right now. Time and again we convince ourselves that God might be calling us away from peace rather than smack dab into it. Sunday’s readings describe three of the very appealing deceits that cause us to resist God’s voice.

The first reading, from Deuteronomy’s fourth chapter, conveys part of Moses’ lengthy message to the people who are about to enter the Promised Land: Keep listening to God. Moses knows well that the people frequently convince themselves that God opposes their happiness. Moses also knows that when they do that, they stop listening to God and start making hair-brained, self-destructive choices. Shortly before Sunday’s passage, in Deuteronomy 1:27 Moses reminds the people that during the Exodus the people refused to listen to or obey God because “You set to murmuring in your tents, ‘Out of hatred for us the LORD has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the power of the Amorites and destroy us.’” When the people doubt God’s benevolence when they doubt that God is calling them to peace, when they convince themselves that God is hostile, they get in trouble.

Sunday’s Gospel passage from Mark 7 describes two other delusions that reduce our desire to listen to God. The first is routine. Mark uses the word “tradition” five times in Sunday’s passage. Jesus makes it clear that traditions are good if they do not become sacred routines that we value above all else. If we value our routine more than we value God’s invitations, we tend not to listen to God. We can get ourselves frantic wondering if God’s call will separate us from our sacred routines. That frenzy dials down our desire to listen to God.

Finally, in listing the sins that come out of a person, Jesus cautions us about our gut reactions. Jesus mentions those twelve sins knowing how appealing they can become in the heat of the battle, and how urgently we sometimes want to indulge them when we would be better off – i.e., more likely to experience true and lasting peace – if we paused and tried to listen to Jesus’ invitation. God reactions can sometimes be powerful forces that lead us away from peace.

So what about you? When have you risen above these impediments? When have you overcome these inclinations to tune God out? When have you received and used well the grace to know what God wants, want what God wants, and do what God wants, even when something was telling you to tune God out? Was there a time when you thought maybe God opposed your true happiness? Was there a time when you so enjoyed your routine that you did what you could do to protect it from God’s love? Has there been a time when you had a very strong gut reaction but put it on hold as you contemplated God’s desire? You surely have overcome the hurdles that made you not want to listen to God? Jesus has said “Ephphatha,” be opened, and you have complied. When have you done that and what does that success say about your future?

 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 24, 2018

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This Week – August 24, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

It was a great blessing to be with you all at last weekend’s Masses. I thank you for your faith and your perseverance. Your devotion – to the Eucharist, to the Word and to the Community – inspires me. Thanks for all of it. I trust that, in the face of the horrible news, you too draw consolation from each other’s commitments and experiences of grace.

Wednesday night’s visits in the parish hall also nudged my hope in the right direction. It was a blessing to share a few minutes with the folks who were knitting and crocheting at the hall’s far end. Similarly, it was good fun to spend a bit of time with the high school students who were here for Wednesday night drop-in, and for all the pizza and Cinnabon’s that go along with that. And the night would not have been complete without testing the food that the Knights of Columbus were enjoying in a state of advanced bonhomie.

Between the Masses and the gatherings, it was a great grace to experience you as priests (people of prayer) as prophets (who console and challenge others) and as kings (who build up the community). Would that everyone could experience the grace of being with you.

I hope too that you might draw consolation from Pope Francis’ recent letter, from Bishop Checchio’s message to the diocese, and from my homily last weekend.
 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Praying with Bishop Checchio – Please consider joining Bishop Checchio for a Eucharistic Holy Hour as he gathers with clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Metuchen at 7 pm on August 29, the Feast of the Passion and of St. John the Baptist. The prayer for the victims of clergy sexual abuse will also be a prayer for strength, courage, and perseverance for the Church of Metuchen as we strive to be faithful disciples of our Lord in these challenging times. The prayer will take place at the Cathedral of St. Francis in Metuchen.
     
  • Sunday’s Homily – Pennsylvania and Wisdom

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

  • The Upcoming CCD Classes – Great thanks to all who have already volunteered to teach in our CCD program. Compared to recent years we are in pretty great shape. That said, we still need to fill a few slots. Please consider the following:
    • Sunday Mornings: 
      • Grade 3 class with 5 students needs one teacher
      • Grade 6 class with 12 students needs a teacher has no teacher
    • Tuesday 7:15pm:
      • We have teachers but need assistants for grades 7 and 8.
    • Thursday 4:00pm:
      • Grade 1 class with 8 students needs a teacher
      • Grade 3 class with 8 students has an aide but needs a teacher
      • Grade 4 class with 10 students needs a teacher    
    • Thursday 6:00pm:
      • Grade 5 class with 11 students needs a teacher

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • The Parish Picnic – The parish picnic is scheduled for Sunday, September 9 and it promises to be at least as much fun as the picnics of recent years. In answer to the most frequently asked questions:
    • YES! The Knights of Columbus will be running the grills so the food will be excellent
    • YES! There will be a water slide for kids of all ages
    • YES! The live music will be back!
    • YES! New parishioners are extra-encouraged to come
    • YES! Father Hank will win the croquet match. 
  • Lazarus Ministry – Once again, a great big thank you to all members of the Lazarus ministry who seem always to be available for serving the funerals and, more recently, for setting up the luncheons. You guys are solid gold.
  • Birthday blessings— I messed up on Saturday, August 4 at the 4:45 Mass. I knew something was amiss at the dismissal and did not realize until AFTER Mass that I had forgotten to bless the August babies. We will try again this week at the 4:45. Please forgive me. MEA CULPA!
  • “This Week” -- I hope to get away for summer vacation next Tuesday through Friday. As such, there will be no THIS WEEK next week. The email will get back on a regular basis after Labor Day. 


Best blessings for every single parishioner. Extra special blessings for those of you who are, for the first time, reading this at college. Extra special blessings for you – and for all the teachers and all the students and all the parents who are getting students ready for the start of school. May God treat you extra-specially beautifully in August’s final days.
 
Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 3, 2018

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This Week – August 3, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Father Tom and the Prayer for Priests by Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ – Father Tom’s death is a source of sadness for the legions of people he inspired. Father Tom’s entry into eternal life is a cause for great consolation. Amid the mix of emotions and spirits, it can be good to consider the prayer Fr. Tom arranged to have printed in the leaflet distributed at his wake. The “Prayer for Priests” was written a few decades ago by Jesuit Father Karl Rahner, SJ. (Many joke it is Rahner’s most intelligible work!)

The priest is not an angel sent from heaven. 
He is a man chosen from among men, a member of the Church, a Christian. 
Remaining man and Christian, he comes to you because God has told him to proclaim God’s word.
Perhaps he has not entirely understood it himself. Perhaps he betrays it even. 
But he believes, and despite his fears he knows that he must communicate God’s word to you. 
For must not some one of us say something about God, about eternal life, about the majesty of grace in our sanctified being?
Must not some one of us speak of sin, the judgment, and mercy of God? 
So my dear friends, pray for him. 
Carry him so that he might be able to sustain others by bringing to them the mystery of God’s love revealed in Christ Jesus.

  • Revisiting the 23rd Psalm – The Mass for Sunday, July 22, the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, included Psalm 23. In the spirit of hearing Jesus say “Talitha Koum” to you, it can be helpful to visualize Jesus speaking Psalm 23 directly to you. Perhaps you can imagine him “looking at you with love” and saying something like:

I am your shepherd; I want you to lack nothing.
I want to lead you to green pastures and still waters.
I want to restore your soul and to guide you along right paths, for the sake of my name.
When you walk through dark valleys, I want you not to fear for I am with you. Let my rod and my staff comfort you.
Let me set a table before you, anoint your head with oil and fill your cup to overflowing.
Remember that I want you to experience goodness and mercy all the days of your life, and I want you to dwell in my house for endless days.


The truth of Jesus’ personal devotion to each of us can be hard to take in. But it is true and worth the contemplation. A second look at Psalm 23 can help us soak it up.

Sunday’s Homily – (Warning: The following sentence is grammatically correct but requires considerable concentration.) Since there was no “This Week” last week, this week’s “This Week” provides the link to last week’s homily and to the homily that would have been linked in last week’s “This Week,” i.e., the homily of July 22.

  • July 22nd Homily – "Talitha koum, Part Four: “You too my friend."

    • To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

  • July 29th Homily – "Talitha koum, Part Five: The True Source of Our Good Works"

    • The July 29 homily will be posted in the coming weeks. Sorry for the inconvenience. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

  • Father Tom’s Funeral – There are way too many people to mention. And I would surely forget someone and that would be bad. I hope it suffices to issue a broad “Thank You” to everyone who made Fr. Tom’s funeral beautiful. The endeavor required the cooperation of several dozen people – including musicians and liturgical ministers of every stripe, new jobs for the staff and the Lazarus ministries, great work by Angelo and Rosie at the Flower Barn, Andrew and JoAnn at Culinary Creations, and all sorts of parishioners who pitched in to move furniture, wash windows and vestments and keep the train on the track. One special shout out goes to Frank Viola (Music), Carol Valone (Lazarus) and Susan Wund (Sacristan). Another special shout out goes to the young people who served. You were excellent. All these efforts helped many to pray fervently for Father Tom. 
  • David Sacco’s First Communion and Confirmation – Robust thanks to all who made David Sacco’s First Communion and Confirmation inspiring. Thanks to Kathy and Bill Gibson and to Deacon Tim for preparing David. Thanks to the anonymous folk who arranged the party. Most of all, thanks to David Sacco for giving our parish the privilege of welcoming him here. David, you inspire us all.
  • Summer CCD – Bravo! Our summer CCD students have generated some great support for the Heifer Project. More accurate numbers will be available soon, but for now, GOOD FOR YOU.
  • Our young people are home from Catholic Heart Work Camp — They returned in a state of advanced weariness, precisely because they worked so hard and gave themselves so completely to the week’s prayer, work and fellowship. Boundless thanks go to the six chaperones who gave up a week of summer vacation to accompany our young people. The young people, the chaperones, the trip organizer (our Youth Minister Bob Ferretti) give us one more reason to believe that the Spirit is alive and well and at work in our parish. Thanks to all who prayed for our travelers.
  • Autumn CCD – The preliminary numbers for program teachers and aids are very encouraging! With a few more sign-ups we might altogether avoid the usual big September push for teachers. We have openings for all days and sessions. Please contact Linda Mackiw if you are feeling the Spirit’s nudge in this direction. 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY

  • 2018/2019 Fellowship Events – The preliminary schedule has been drafted and promises to be quite excellent. We have one event planned for every month from September through May. Some of these events have already become crowd-pleasing traditions. Others are on their way to becoming so. Thanks for justifying the hope that most parishioners will participate in a few of these events and will get to know a fellow parishioner or two. Stay tuned for the details.
  • Pilgrimage? – Through a very funny turn of events, the possibility of a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land might be emerging. If it happens, it would probably take place in May of 2019, would last for about 10 days and would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000 per person (VERY rough estimate). The prospects are VERY preliminary. Send me an email if you might have any interest. Plans are just starting to take shape


Best blessings for every single parishioner as we head into summer’s finale. Remember, if you can arrange a change of scenery this summer, it is probably a very good and inspired idea to do so.
 
Fr Hank 

Summary of July 15 Homily:
Talitha koum, Part Four: You too my friend

 

Most of us are pretty good about saying “Talitha Koum” to many people. Right, you don’t use that precise Aramaic phrase. But, by your words and actions, you say to others, “You are important to me and I want to help you reach the peace that God desires for you.” 
And as good as we are about saying it to others, we are frequently pretty lame when it comes to hearing Jesus say it to us through others. Sunday’s readings remind us “God wants us to hear ‘Talitha koum’ as well as to say it.” And God wants us to honor the words.


The first reading, from Jeremiah 23, portrays God’s desire for his beloved sheep to be well tended and living in peace. The passage describes the anger God feels when the shepherds he has appointed (Israel’s and Judah’s leaders) fail to say “Talitha koum” to his beloved sheep (the people they serve.) That failure has left the sheep scattered, alone, fearful, and trembling. God wants none of this. He wants his people to experience profound peace. He wants them to hear “Talitha koum.”


Sunday’s Gospel depicts Jesus as determined to care for his sheep, to have them hear “Talitha koum.” The disciples have just returned from their high-intensity missionary journeys and are thoroughly exhausted. His first words to them are “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest.” He is saying to them “Talitha koum.” Ironically, when they get to that deserted place, the crowds arrive and he feels sorry for them too. He sees them as “sheep without a shepherd” and he wants them to hear “Talitha koum” and to respond accordingly.


What about you? Are you honoring Jesus’ request that you find “Talitha koum” time for yourself – i.e., time when you put down the proverbial hoe and put up your actual feet? For some, it means summer vacation. For others, it means a quiet, sacred few minutes every day. It means different things to different people. But we know Jesus says to each of us “Talitha koum,” that is – you are dear to me and I want you to be even more at peace. How are you at answering his call?

 

Summary of July 22 Homily:
Talitha koum, Part Five: The True Source of Our Good Works


Elisha (pr: uh – LEE – shuh) appears as the hero in Sunday’s first reading (2 Kings 4). He enables the visitor to feed 100 students with twenty very small loaves of bread. This episode is the fifth time in chapter four that Elisha has played a pivotal role in a very impressive “Talitha koum” moment. Even a casual read of the chapter indicates that, in each moment, God is the True Source (veritas caput) of the good work and Elisha is simply the instrument of God’s “Talitha koum” work.


The disciples play a similar role in Sunday’s gospel (John 6), John’s version of the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus multiplies the loaves and the fishes and the disciples then distribute it. The 12 play a key role in facilitating the miracle but Jesus is the miracle’s True Source (veritas caput). 


Jesus is always the true source of our “Talitha koum” efforts. That awareness might seem to diminish our importance or our potential glee. But a closer look yields the opposite result. Which is more satisfying, to say “I made a wonderful thing happen today” or “Jesus used me to achieve a wonderful thing today”? The second claim is both more accurate and more rewarding. Think about it. You have been chosen and sent by the one who is “God from God, light from light” the one “through whom all things were made,” the one who saved us and set us free. He is using you.


What about you? Where might you need to remember that? Name three of your most fruitful “Talitha koum” habits, those regular practices of yours that say to the other “you are dear to me and I want to help you reach deeper peace.” It’s not the heroic moments that matter most in our Talitha koum portfolios. It is the day-after-day stuff. It’s Talitha koum moments that unfold before the unforgiving dishwasher or laundry room. It’s at work and the work itself. It’s the kindness to the outsiders at school or at practice. Yes. God, the True Source uses you. Own it. Celebrate it.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 19, 2018

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Dear All:     

 

Christ’s Peace.

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

 

Prayer after Communion – Last week’s retreat was very good.  In addition to the 15 very cheerful priests, Father Hensell the outstanding Benedictine retreat leader, and the beautiful place (Google “Ender’s Island CT,”) one of the really fine things about the retreat was the ability to pray quietly after communion. It has been a while since I have been able to spend such quality time with one of my all-time favorite post-Communion prayers, The Anima Christi. Maybe it speaks to your post-Communion heart:
 

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen.

  • Your retreats? –  As Saint Ignatius understood so well, not everyone can escape for 30, 8 or even 3 days for a sleep-away retreat.  At-home retreats are not just a great alternative to sleep-away retreats, they can be the channel of graces that retreat-house retreats cannot always facilitate.  Keep thinking if you might be game for “Meeting Christ in Prayer” (the six-week program) and “The Spiritual Exercises” (the seven-month program).  Email me if you want to be on either list.  N.B. – most people need to have done “Meeting Christ in Prayer” before making the Exercises.

  • Sunday’s Homily –  (Warning: The following sentence is grammatically correct but requires considerable concentration.)  Since there was no “This Week” last week, this week’s “This Week” provides the link to last week’s homily and to the homily that would have been linked in last week’s “This Week,” i.e., the homily of July 8.

  • July 8th Homily – "Talitha koum, Part Two: Jesus and our cranky beloved."

    • To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

  • July 15th Homily – "Talitha koum, Part Three: Our Talitha koum-mates."

    • To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Gathering Space Animals – The photographs in the Gathering Space mobile are part of the summer CCD program’s effort to support the Heifer Project, a program that provides farm animals to people who very much need them.  The poor boxes will support the project for the rest of July.  If you can help the youngsters help the cause, terrific.

  • Our Young Adults are “Home from the hills” — What was that poem?  “Home are the sailors, home from the sea and the hunters are home from the hill.”  Our young adults did no hunting but are safely and happily home from the hills of Appalachia.  They worked extremely hard cleaning, planting, cooking, and performing all sorts of tasks for people who live in and around Wheeling, West Virginia.  Many have reported how profoundly grateful they are for the people they met who candidly shared their stories of life’s challenges and triumphs in West Virginia.  We are all very grateful to the chaperones – Carlene Thompson, Billy Gibson, Rea Larangeira, Josh Huang and Bob Ferretti.   

  • Our High-school Students Are Heading Out – Great blessings for our forty high-school students who leave for Catholic Heart Work Camp near Paterson, NJ after the 11:30 Mass on Sunday.  Like the slightly older gang that just returned from Appalachia, they will be working hard in a wide variety of service projects.  They will also be praying together and enjoying the nightly prayer rallies.  Please say a prayer each day (Sunday-Saturday), that their trip will be safe and inspiring. 

  • Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen ― Terry Lee and Co. at it again.  This time, compliments of the Knights of Columbus, they served up Fish Tacos Luncheon at Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen.

  • Prayer Shawl Ministry ― The Prayer Shawl Ministry is running strong.  Just gave 25 blankets to Safe and Sound of Somerset County for the children in safe house, families victims of abusive relationships.  Great work Ladies, - and Man!!

  • Kagne Family Update ― If you saw a family of 5 kids at Camp Star last week, it was the Kagne Kids. Thanks to the Hillsborough YMCA who offered tuition assistance to give the kids a week out in the country.  Our parish is helping the family through a rough spot with mentoring from parishioner Dennis George.  Good things happening as the family moves forward.  

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • New Parishioners – Please join me in welcoming our newest parishioners, and in saying a prayer for each of them, by name, that God will greatly bless them in their years at St. Joe’s and that God will bless us greatly through them:

    • Roberto and Megan Carswell,

    • Anthony and Yvonne Comito,

    • Thomas and Kimberly Fleming and their children Alexandra and Sadie

    • Thomas and Diane Smiley and their children Megan and Thomas

    • Dodd and Angela Weisenberger and their children Emma and Deanna

    • Chris and Christine Wynkoop and their son Kyle

  • Summer CCD –  Blessings for all the students who are spending these two weeks in summer CCD.  Thanks and blessings too for their teachers and the program organizers.  It is wonderful to have their great vibe in and around the building as they learn their religion lessons and wonder what it really means to “Find God – and what to do when you do find God.”

  • Summer Liturgical Ministers — Many dozens of parishioners do extra duty in their liturgical ministries as they cover for people who are on well-deserved vacations.  Great thanks to our servers, ushers, lectors, EMs, sacristans, musicians, and singers.  Special thanks to the leaders of all those ministries who do the difficult and important work of making sure all our bases are covered.  Our parish benefits greatly from your dedication.

  • The Becca’s Friends group enjoyed a movie day at Hillsborough Movie Cinema, compliments of a generous donor.  30 participants from BF, chaperones and ARC Group home enjoyed an outing this past Sunday.

  • Dane Klewsaat, one of our own of the Becca’s Friends Social Club members, won a Bronze Medal at the Special Olympics in Seattle Washington with his NJ Special Olympics Softball team.

  • Respect Life Ministry ― Huge thanks to the Respect Life Ministry for a well-attended seminar about End of Life decisions and information about doctor-assisted suicide. 70 people filled our Hospitality Room to listen to Jennifer Rogerio, as she spoke compassionately and shared good information about this topic. 

Best blessings for every single parishioner.  May this season be one of great fun and insight!

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

 

Summary of July 8 Homily:

Talitha koum, Part Two: Jesus and our cranky beloved

 

Talitha koum.” You say it all the time. You don’t speak the Aramaic expression that Jesus spoke when he healed Jairus’ critically ill daughter. But you convey the same message. You convey it in your words and – more frequently and more persuasively – in your actions. You tell people “you are precious and important to me and I want to help you find true peace.”

 

Sometimes you say that, verbally or nonverbally, to people who are a little cranky. Or maybe a lot cranky. You are trying to help them and they tell you, in their words and their actions, to “buzz off” or to “do a better job.” “Thank you” seems not to be their primary message.

 

The readings of Sunday, July 8, the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, remind us that we are in good company. For thousands of years, people have been saying “Talitha koum” and have received harsh replies. The first reading (Ezekiel 2) tells the story of God’s frustration with his chosen, rebellious and cranky people. Ezekiel is to try to turn them in a new direction, and to head into it with eyes wide open, realizing that God’s countless Talitha koums have elicited countless gnarly dismissals.

 

The Gospel (Mark 6) tells of Jesus’ visit to his hometown synagogue. He dazzled the hometown crowd but their amazement quickly morphed into petty jealousy and efforts to discredit Jesus. He was being perfectly kind and they were being awful. They gave “cranky” a new meaning.

 

The gospel reminds us that Jesus gets it when it comes to loving our cranky beloved. It was one thing for him to be rejected by the politicians and church leaders, and quite another to be mistreated by those he loved and was trying to help. He understands completely. He gets it. He’s been there. He loves your love for your cranky beloved. Just as the father loved Ezekiel’s care for his cranky beloved.

 

What about you? In what situation might you need to remember that? In what relationships might it be helpful for you to recall that Jesus fully understands the frustration of loving cranky people and trying to help them? He knows what it is like to say “Talitha koum” and to have the other reply “Get lost.” Recalling Jesus’ compassion toward us helps us react to him rather than to the cranks. Where do you need to pay more attention to Jesus’s gratitude and love for you and less attention to the cranky beloved you are trying to help?

 

Summary of July 15 Homily:

Talitha koum, Part Three: Our Talitha-koum-mates

 

The people with whom we share a room, we call “roommates.” Those who are on our team, we call “teammates.” And those with whom we say “Talitha-koum?” Of course. We call them “Talitha-koum-mates.” Right?

 

Whether or not we use that word, we know the concept. We all have people who stand by us as we try to affirm and help another who is going through a rough patch. And we have people by whom we stand as they say, by their words and actions, “Talitha koum” to their beloved.

 

Sunday’s gospel Jesus (Mark 6) reminds us that Jesus is all about Talitha-koum-mates. He sends the disciples out two-by-two, not one-by-one. He gave them power to cast out demons and, as some argue convincingly, perhaps that power was given to the pairs, not to the individuals. We know that Jesus has told us “Wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, there I am with you.” Jesus seems to have a special dedication to teams of Talitha-koum-mates and that dedication lines up exactly with the Father’s belief (Genesis 2:18) “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

 

What about you? To whom are you being a good Talitha-koum-mate? Name two or three people who rely on you, at least a little, to help them do some good for their beloved? Perhaps they are caring for a sick relative and you do their shopping? Maybe they are working OT to earn their kids’ tuition and you let their dog out. It takes 101 forms. Name three situation ins which you are being a terrific Talitha-koum-mate and one where God is nudging you to up your game. 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 6, 2018

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s peace! “This Week” will be on a different schedule for the next few weeks. I will be away on retreat next week and not writing “This Week.” And even if I were here, Bob Ferretti is away with the young adults and might have a hard time sending it. Two weeks after that we run into a similar challenge. Thanks for reading “This Week” and thanks for understanding that, until early August, we might not be sending “This Week” every week. 

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER  

  • Prayers for Gloria – Great thanks to all who came to pray the rosary on Monday night for Gloria Realbuto. Special thanks to Gloria’s Hillsborough High schoolmates who came out to pray. Both the 6:30 and 9:00 pm prayers were very well attended and inspiring. It was another of those moments when I and many others were acutely aware of what a great blessing it is to be a part of this parish. Gloria has a considerable road ahead of her and still has some obstacles to overcome, but between her determination and all the prayers, things are looking better. As of this writing, she has had 12 very good hours.
  • Prayers for the Appalachia-bound – Our 20 young parishioners (ages 18-30) and their five drivers/facilitators will be heading for a workweek in Appalachia on Sunday morning after the 7:15 Mass. Actually, they will start out heading due west – for breakfast at the Star diner on 206 – and then head west by southwest for Wheeling, West Virginia. It would be great if everyone could send up one prayer each day, Sunday through Saturday, for their safety and inspiration. 
  • Prayers for your pastor – I leave Monday morning after Mass for the second and shorter part of my annual retreat. The six-day, silent (alligator-free) retreat was in January. This week I go for a three-day, preached retreat in Connecticut. For several years I, along with my great Jesuit friend Fr. Bill Dolan, have participated in this retreat for priests. It is preached by the Benedictine scripture scholar, Father Gene Hensell. Say one for me and all the retreatants, for great availability to grace. And perhaps we should think about some retreats for parishioners?
  • Planning Ahead – Once again, a fleeting mention of two Prayer opportunities for the fall – Meeting Christ in Prayer (the six-week program) and The Spiritual Exercises (the seven-month program). Email me if you want to be on either list. More details will be forthcoming this summer.

     

  • Sunday’s Homily – "Talitha koum, Part One: Jesus loves our beloved"

    • To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • The Heifer Project – (The word “Heifer” – pr: HEFF-er – as in “a young cow that has not had a calf,” looks funny, right?) Our CCD Summer School Students are, for their service project, learning about world hunger and doing what they can to reduce it. Their preferred method to combat world hunger is to support the Heifer Project, a program that provides farm animals to people who very much need them. The flying pictures in our Gathering Space, for the next three weeks, are all about the Heifer Project.

  • Our Parish Prayer Shawl Ministry — Our parish Prayer Shawl Ministry is alive and well and knitting up a storm! It currently consists of two groups. The evening group meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. The morning group meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursday. More than thirty ladies, and ONE brave man gathering to pray, knit, crochet and chat in our Parish Hall. Just this week the ministry gave 25 children’s blankets to Safe and Sound of Somerset County. Please consider joining the fun and productivity – even if you do not yet know how to knit or crochet. The Thursday morning group will be offering “Knit and Crochet Camp” and, yes, they will help you and your youngster(s) learn. 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Altar Servers’ and Ice Cream – Thanks to Mrs. Cessiano (outgoing moderator of the server ministry) and Mrs. Cappobianco (incoming moderator of the server ministry) for organizing Saturday’s ice-cream party for our altar servers. Thanks too to all the servers who added to the good time and made sure we didn’t have to worry about leftover ice cream! Most of all, thanks to all our altar servers. You make an enormous contribution to our shared experience of prayer. You are doing a bang-up job. Thanks!

  • Saint Joe’s Motorcycle Club —The motorcycle ride originally scheduled for two weeks ago, the one that was so thoroughly rained out, is now rescheduled for 8:00 am this Sunday (July 8). Riders will exit the parking lot (gracefully) right after the 7:15 Mass. Even if you have not yet joined the club, get on your bike and get over here to join the ride. You will be glad you did. Unlike the Appalachia-bound who will eat and then travel, the bikers plan to travel and then eat.

Best blessings for all of you priests, prophets, and kings. May you be blessed with extra fun, safe travels, and healthy air conditioners. 

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Talitha koum, Part One: Jesus loves our beloved

 

“Talitha koum.”

 

The expression forms the crescendo of Sunday’s gospel passage (Mark 5). Some say it means “Little girl, arise.” Others interpret it as “Little lamb, rise up.” Still, others understand it differently. Differences notwithstanding, most agree that the phrase conveys affection (“little girl” or “little lamb”) and empowerment (“arise” or “get up”). Most experts also agree that Jesus probably spoke that specific Aramaic expression to Jairus’ desperately ill child.

 

Jesus’ words and their miraculous results would surely have left Jairus awash in joy and gratitude and amazed by the awareness “Jesus loves my beloved”? Moments before the healing, Jairus had no reason to hold that belief. Moments after, he had no reason to doubt it.

 

The healing and the insight (“Jesus loves my beloved”) come at the end of the story. They occur after Jairus approaches Jesus, Jesus agrees to go with Jairus, Jesus offers his insight, Jairus’ family ridicules Jesus, and Jesus touches the child. Only then is the child revived and Jesus’ love for Jairus’ beloved rendered unquestionable.

 

Our stories, in some ways, seem unlike Jairus’. Jairus got just what he wanted from the Lord. He sought help for his loved one and he received it. We, evidently unlike Jairus, sometimes ask and seem not to receive.

 

In other ways, our stories are identical to Jairus’. Jesus devotion and affection for Jairus’ daughter is identical to Jesus’ devotion and affection for our loved ones. Even when our loved ones are going through a rough patch, when it seems Jesus is either not caring about or not taking great care of our beloved, Jesus is loving our beloved.

 

In what circumstances do you crave a Jairus moment? In what ways do you need that heavenly reassurance from Jesus “I love your beloved?” Perhaps one of your loved ones is physically ill, or in a rough emotional state, or going through relational difficulties or professional or financial reversals – and you need that reminder that, despite the lack of persuasive evidence, Jesus loves your beloved. The quiet conviction “Jesus loves my beloved” can make an important difference in the way we approach our loved ones. It makes a difference in the way we pray and in the resolutions we are willing to receive. Where might you want to ask Jesus for a Jairus moment, a moment of being able to say to Jesus “I know you love the ones I love”?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 22, 2018

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Dear All: 


Christ’s peace!

 

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER  

  • Planning Ahead – Sorry to mention the O-word (October) on the first day of summer, but it might help your advance planning. I expect to offer two prayer programs that start after Labor Day.

    • Meeting Christ in Prayer – This six-week program introduces people to imaginative scriptural prayer and to small-group spiritual conversation. The sessions will start around Columbus Day and will meet either on Monday or Wednesday evenings at 7:00 or 7:30. Enrollment will be limited to twelve. More sessions will be offered throughout the year. The program involves about 20 minutes of your time, six days a week – plus the 90-minute meeting each week. 

    • The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius – This program leads people through the entire experience of The Spiritual Exercises. The group, which will also be limited to twelve people, will meet every other Monday or Wednesday at about 7:00. First preference will be given to people who have completed Meeting Christ in Prayer. The program requires about 45 minutes of your time, five days a week, plus the 90-minute meeting every other week. The program runs from October to May.
       

  • Sunday’s Homily – "The People Who Help Us Believe, Part Two: Our Mustard Bush People"

    • To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • 20th Anniversary – Be sure to check out the photographs in the gathering space! And for those of you who were here in those exciting days, what memories do the pictures stir? Was there a moment in the design, construction, or dedication processes that you still cherish? Bring your story and bring your refreshments to the gathering after Saturday’s 4:45 to reminisce and to thank God!

  • Saint Joe’s Motorcycle Club — Join the ride on Saturday before the 4:45 Mass! It makes no difference whether you have already joined the club or have not gotten around to it yet. Just get your helmet and go. The riders will leave the church parking lot at 1:30 pm and will return in time for the 4:45 Mass. Wasn’t there something in the scriptures about motorcycles and holiness, or am I getting confused?

  • Religious Education – It is another fine season for our Religious Education Program.

    • ONLINE – Thank you to all who have signed up for an account on ParishSoft, and have registered your children already for the 2018-2019 CCD year. If you have any trouble registering, please contact Linda. We have learned several new tricks for getting around technical glitches! 

    • Numbers – To date, we have almost 65% of our students re-registered, plus a nice group of incoming 1st graders. 

    • Discount – Remember that the discounted price for tuition is available until June 30. You have one more week to take advantage of our Early Bird Special.

    • Summer CCD – Our Summer CCD Session is full to the brim, and all the parents are working hard to get ready for a fun 2 weeks!

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Summer Work Trips – Our parish truly has it going on this year with summer work trips.

    • Young Adults (July 8-14) — This is something altogether new and wonderful. Twenty of our young adults, ages 18 – 30, will join forces with West Virginia’s Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University. The experience offers unique opportunities to serve Appalachian communities, learn about the region’s blessings and challenges, use tried-and-true Jesuit methods to reflect on the experience, and discern options for continued service. Please say a prayer for our travelers.

    • High School Students (July 22-27) – This year, thirty-six of our high school students will be heading off to Catholic Heart Workcamp in North Haledon, NJ. Our young people will be joining 200 others from around the country to help families and organizations in Patterson, NJ to restore their homes, service-centers, and communities. Their days will be filled with work at several locations, sharing meals in common, praying at daily Mass, and coming together for music and fellowship every night. The experience does much to transform our youngsters into committed, mature Catholics. Pray for them too.

  • Nick Troisi – Great thanks to Nick Troisi! After many years of opening the church on Sundays and serving as sacristan for daily Mass, Nick has decided to turn those duties over to others. Thanks Nick!

  • Beccas Friends – Great thanks and blessings for the many parishioners who, last Friday, provided yet another splendid night for Becca’s Friends’, our parish ministry for people with special needs. The Game Night welcomed 45 participants. Many were our regulars (including several parishioners) and many were from three group homes in the area. The table games generated great fun, laughter, and non-stop chatter! Yet another great night at church for our loved ones with special needs.

  • Tim Tebow – Thanks to all the parishioners who are writing to the Tim Tebow Foundation to select our parish as a location for one of their foundation-sponsored dinner dances in February – for people with special needs.

  • 9:30 Sunday – Special Guests – For those of you who regularly pray at the Sunday 9:30 Mass, please join me in welcoming a new batch of special visitors. The newest assisted living facility on 206 is bringing several of its new residents to our 9:30 Mass. May this be the start of a long and inspired connection.

All best blessings for all of you as we enter the peak of the summer season. May it begin with some great fun and inspiring adventures of all sorts. May God continue to bless you abundantly.

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

The People Who Help Us Believe, Part Two: Our Mustard Bush People

 

 

Sunday’s gospel, the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4) says much about the mustard plant’s impressive growth pattern. It sprouts quickly from a tiny seed into a sprawling bush. As such, it provides a powerful symbol of God’s spreading kingdom.

 

The gospel also points out one of the bush’s important functions. The bush provides little in the way of food for man or beast. Neither does it offer building material. When was the last time you heard of something made from mustard wood? What the mustard bush does provide is a place where “the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade,” a place for birds to escape the sun’s scorching rays. It supplies a restorative alternative to a harsh environment. 

 

Moments of great trust in God’s love do for us what the shade does for the birds in the mustard branches. Experiences of deep conviction and deep faith in Jesus’ love provide a pause that renews. When the circumstances around us become very trying, recollections of God’s love offer a moment of shade, a calming and restorative hiatus that enables us to fight the good fight with renewed vigor. Calming experiences of conviction do not alter the challenging circumstances. But those moments do enable us to re-enter the fray with a better focus and a greater ability to love.

 

The sprout of cedar described in the first reading (Ezekiel 17) functions in a similar way. It eventually grows into a place where “Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.” The time spent in the shade restores the creatures that pause there.

 

God’s mustard bushes and cedars grow all around us. The world provides all sorts of places and people and experiences that enable us to recall, even in the heat of the battle, that we are beloved, that God knows our names and knows what is up, that we matter to God.

 

What about you? What have been some of your best mustard-bush experiences? When have you found yourself trudging through difficult circumstances and then been moved by the conviction that your trudging matters to God? When have you devoted yourself to another, even in challenging times, and been renewed by the deep-down awareness that God also loves the one you love, that the beloved matters even more to God than to you? When have you been one of those tweetie birds panting for relief and found the comfort and consoling shade of the awareness of God’s love? What is your mustard bush story and who might need to hear it? Your mustard bush story, properly shared, makes it easier for others to believe.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 15, 2018

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Dear All: 


Christ’s peace!


SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT THE NEW KEYS – 


The Buildings and Grounds Committee decided more than a year ago that we were far overdue for a change of our outside locks. The diocesan safety experts shared that view. For a variety of reasons, the change took place this week. New locks have been installed on all the external doors. However, the locks on the main church doors, the doors to the parish hall and the door for wheelchairs need to be adjusted. Once the dust settles, new keys will be issued. (N.B. – the old keys still open the same interior doors they always opened.)
 

We have two types of new keys, traditional keys and electronic keys (fobs and cards). Our strong desire is to replace most of the old keys with electronic keys. The electronic keys are for people who need to get into the church but who do not need to open the church for Mass or major events. The traditional keys are for people who need to open the church for Mass or major events.

 

As best as we can tell, everyone who needs a key for this weekend (i.e., who was on the parish calendar for an event this weekend) has a key. Please contact the office on Monday to obtain a new key card.

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Father Tholitho’s Ordination and First St. Joe’s Mass – Great thanks and blessings for all who participated in Father Tholitho’s ordination last Saturday. As experiences of shared prayer go, it was a profound one. Similar thanks and blessings for all who enriched the prayer and multiplied the joy at Sunday’s 6:00 pm Mass. Again, a powerful experience God made powerful by animating the hearts of the willing participants.

  • Prayers for our Graduates – Additional thanks and blessings for those who are graduating from High School and joined the prayer and the fun on Sunday at and after the 6:00 Mass. What a grace it was to be present for Bob Ferretti’s closing prayer for you. And what a blessing it is to be around you and your family and all who have helped you grow so well in the faith. Remember, you have a home parish where people know your name and love you and trust you and are most eager for updates on your brilliant adventures. Remember – when you get to college, (a) Go to church and (b) bust your butts on school work until mid-terms, and then keep it up!
     

  • Sunday’s Homily – "The People Who Help Us Believe, Part One: The non-Usual Suspects"

    • To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

    • To listen to Fr. Tholitho's first homily, click here.

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Last Weekend – Great thanks to all who contributed to last weekend’s marvelous community events – 

    • The 5K run
    • Tholitho’s Ordination and First Mass
    • The Pancake Breakfast (with chocolate chip pancakes!!!!)

It was a really fine weekend for the whole parish – thanks to so many of you!

  • 20th Anniversary – At the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, June 23, we will recognize the 20th anniversary of the dedication of our current church building. Refreshments to follow – BYOB!

  • Calling all motorcyclists – Ride with other St. Joe’s parishioners who gather periodically for area bike excursions.  Contact jgoldstone32@comcast.net to learn more about the St Joe’s Motorcycle Club.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • James Quesada – One of the highlights of my very excellent week was a surprise visit from James Quesada. You remember James. He is the fellow whose house we helped to renovate. Actually “George to the Rescue” did the renovation and we helped George. James continues to be extremely grateful to the parish for all we did to improve his quality of life. And we are all hoping that James’ next trip to Johns Hopkins will help him make the improvements that will enable him to graduate from college. He expresses the greatest gratitude to the entire parish.

  • The Kagne Family – The Kagne family, the refugee family we have been helping for the last few months, also wanted to express great thanks to all parishioners for the invaluable assistance recently received. As the family awaits the results of their asylum hearing, we continue to support them financially and personally. In her recent and beautiful letter to all of us, Mrs. Kagne recounted “You have been so close to us by your prayers and your help at every level. May God bless you. Thank you very very much.” Special thanks to Dennis George and Michelle Laffoon for organizing our effort. 

  • The Heifer Project – Get ready for the flying cows in the gathering space! They will be there to remind you about the summer CCD program’s Heifer Project – an endeavor that deserves lots of our attention.

  • Summer Work Trips – Also stay tuned for news about the parish’s two upcoming work trips – our Youth Group’s Trip to Pennsylvania and our Young Adult Trip to Appalachia. 

May God multiply the joy for all of you for whom Father’s Day is a happy day and may God divide the grief for those for whom Father’s Day is a day of sadness. And for all, may God continue to bless you abundantly.

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

The People Who Help Us Believe, Part One: The non-Usual Suspects

 

 

God uses all sorts of people to lead us further into the conviction that Jesus Christ is the way and the truth and the life. God uses all sorts of people to help us grow in faith, hope, and charity. God uses all sorts of people to plant us more firmly in the desires to know what God wants, to want what God wants and to do what God wants.

 

Many of those faith-helpers come from the ranks of the usual suspects. Parents, grandparents, pastoral ministers, CCD teachers, churchmates, pewmates, the pope and his bishops, the heroes in our history, and countless others who share our faith have fed our faith. But not all faith-helpers come from our own ranks and not all faith-drainers come from outside. Sunday’s readings illustrate three of the four possible mixes of others’ faith and their help to ours.

 

Faith-mates Who Help Us – Sunday’s gospel (Mark 3) contains two mentions of “the crowd” that followed Jesus. Members of this group clearly shared an enthusiasm for Jesus and, it seems logical to infer, they reinforced each other’s passion for Jesus. They are a good example of how the usual suspects – people who share our belief – help us to believe. They encourage us to follow Jesus and to take his words to heart.

 

Faith-mates Who Do Not Help Us – The first reading’s depiction of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) reminds us that people who share a faith sometimes discourage each other from growing in the faith. Both Adam and Eve, who had identical relationships with God, knew very well what God wanted them to do and what God wanted them not to do. Still, despite their shared wisdom, they decided to do what they knew God wanted them not to do.

 

Others Who Drain Our Faith – The Scribes in the story remind us that people who do not share our belief sometimes make it hard for us to believe. Their accusations that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul would surely have made many wonder if Jesus of Nazareth was all he was cracked up to be.

 

Others Who Help Our Faith – This group is the one not mentioned on Sunday – people who do not share our Catholicism or our Christianity or our Theism, but who still help us to believe. Several gospel passages describe people who were neither Christians nor Jews but who helped others believe. The non-Jewish centurion who helped build the synagogue (Luke 7) is a classic example. So are King Cyrus of Persia who liberated the captives and the Muslims who protected Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land in the 15th and 16th centuries.

 

What about you? Maybe you had a Jewish grandfather who encouraged you to learn the gospels. Or a Congregationalist colleague who opened your heart and your mind to the importance of Christian fellowship as a way of growing the faith. Perhaps you have known a Hindu or a Muslim neighbor whose devotion to their faith challenged you to engage yours more deeply. Maybe you have entertained heartfelt questions from one who no longer believes and your efforts to answer those questions led you to a deeper affection for Jesus. Maybe you have a non-religious old pal who made it possible for you to visit a very holy place.

 

The usual suspects are a great gift from God; people of faith have a marvelous way of helping us to grow. And God uses other people to achieve the same end. What persons from another faith or no faith have helped you toward deeper faith? And what might God have in store in your future?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 8, 2018

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s peace!

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • The Feast of the Sacred Heart – Today’s Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus deserves a second look. Until about ten or fifteen years ago, I was aware of the feast and of the Sacred Heart images, but I knew little about the feast’s meaning. Then came a minor engine explosion on a boat in central France, and a completely unscheduled trip to the town where Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque received the Sacred Heart revelations in the 1670s. That trip changed everything. The feast seems to celebrate one truth above all others: Jesus loves us more than we can even begin to imagine. His Sacred Heart beats with love for YOU. Enjoy the day.

  • Loving the Eucharist – Saint Margaret Mary, the French nun to whom the Sacred Heart revelations were granted, also received great graces pertaining to the Eucharist. Given today’s Feast of the Sacred Heart and last Sunday’s Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, some of her Eucharistic reflections merit consideration:

    • “Every morning during meditation I prepare myself for the whole day. Holy Communion assures me that I will win the victory.

    • The courage and the strength that are within me are not of me, but of Him who lives in me - it is the Eucharist.

    • The most solemn moment of my life is the moment when I receive Holy Communion. I long for each Holy Communion, and for every Holy Communion I give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity. If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us (for) receiving Holy Communion

Oh, what awesome mysteries take place during Mass! One day we will know what God is doing for us in each Mass, and what sort of gift He is preparing in it for us. Only His Divine Love could permit that such a gift be provided for us.

  • Sunday’s Homily – The New and Eternal Covenant: How's Your "Amen?"

    • To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • A VERY Big Weekend – This is one of the weekends during which our building will get very little rest – and that is a good thing!

    • Early Saturday Morning – The 5K Run — Our Fifth Annual 5k begins at 8:00 am. Come to run or come to cheer! Can't run/walk, you can still support us by registering as a 'virtual participant' - you'll even get the race t-shirt!

    • Late Saturday Morning – Deacon Tholitho’s Priestly Ordination – Our Deacon Tholitho will become Father Tholitho at the ordination liturgy on Saturday June 9 at 11:00 am. If you have never participated in an ordination liturgy, you should think of attending this one at the Metuchen Cathedral. It is “high church” at its best – a terrific opportunity to pray.

    • Sunday Morning -- Pancakes! – As suggested last weekend, pancake season is almost over! This is your big chance. One of our most talented and ambitious CCD classes is hosting a pancake breakfast after the Masses on Sunday. Come for the pancakes and the great company. 

    • Sunday Evening -- Father Tholitho’s First Mass Here – Father Tholitho will be celebrating his first Mass at St James in Jamesburg on the morning of Sunday, June 10. He will then celebrate the 6:00 pm Mass here that evening. Refreshments will follow.

    • Also Sunday Evening – the Blessing of the Graduates – Sunday’s 6:00 pm Mass will also give us a chance to bless our high-school graduates and to thank them for their great contributions while they were in high school.

  • 20th Anniversary – At the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, June 23, we will recognize the 20th anniversary of the dedication of our current church building. Refreshments to follow – BYOB!

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • The Heifer Project – Plans for the summer CCD program’s service project are moving ahead at a brisk pace. Stay tuned for information about how you can support the Heifer Project – an international program that gets farm animals to the people who need them most.

  • Summer Work Trips – Also stay tuned for news about the parish’s two upcoming work trips – our Youth Group’s Trip to Pennsylvania and our Young Adult Trip to Appalachia. 

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones – on the Feast of the Sacred Heart and always.

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

The New and Eternal Covenant: How's Your "Amen?"

 

 

At every Mass, we hear the words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper when he created the gift of the Eucharist: “Take this, all of you and drink from it, for this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant . . . “ The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ provides a marvelous invitation to stop and consider both His mind-boggling words and our reply.
 

Jesus’ “new covenant” stands in stark contrast to the old covenants. Conventional bible wisdom identifies five Old Testament Covenant. Three of the five merit extra attention.

God’s covenant with Noah conveyed the promise that God would never again destroy the earth as he did in the flood. God’s covenant with Abraham then reassured Abraham that he would have innumerable descendants and that those descendants would have a place to call their own. Then came God’s covenant with Moses at Sinai, when God identified the Israelites as his chosen people. Moses’ ritual ratification of that covenant was the story in Sunday’s first reading (Ex 24). 
 

Jesus’ covenant with us is of an altogether different nature. In the new covenant, Christ’s covenant, God offers us eternal life. God did not do that in any earlier covenant. God also offers peace in this life, “not as the world gives peace.” It is a peace that comes only through connection with Christ and it is a peace that can come from no other source. The new covenant offers peace and eternal life.
 

The new covenant, depicted in Sunday’s gospel, is also eternal. It will last forever and then into eternity. No other covenant will ever supersede it. No other covenant will render it irrelevant.
 

We renew our commitment to the covenant in countless ways. We re-ratify it when we pray when we love and do not count the cost, when we act as priest, prophet, and king. We do it in a special way when we say “Amen” to the blood of Christ, the blood of the new and eternal covenant.
 

How is your “Amen?” Of course, some days are better than others. Some days leave us feeling focused and connected. Other days leave us distracted and fragmented. Don’t worry too much about the outliers. What about your most typical “Amen?” Is it coming from a sufficiently deep-down place, i.e., the place from which God is inviting you to render it? Are you doing your best to focus on the mind-boggling truth of what is happening? We cannot simply will ourselves into a deep-down amen, but we can cooperate with grace when God gives us the nudge. We can sometimes do the work of quieting ourselves, the work of learning more, the work of absorbing history. We can also do what it takes, during our reflective moments after communion, to picture Jesus himself extending the chalice to us and saying “Take this and drink from it, for this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and the everlasting covenant. It will be poured out for YOU.” What might that do to your “Amen?” 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 1, 2018

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s peace!

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

 

Teilhard’s Prayer –Last week’s homily referenced Teilhard’s “Preamble to a Prayer for Patience.”(BTW – His full name is “Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ” though he is usually referred to simply as “Teilhard.” He was a French Jesuit, paleontologist, geologist and philosopher who lived from 1891 to 1955.)

 

Teilhard’s Preamble to a Prayer for Patience

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
 

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability— and that it may take a very long time.
 

And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.
 

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

  • Sunday’s Homily – “The Trinity and Our Patience”

    • To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Welcome New Parishioners – A great welcome and all best blessings for those who joined our parish last month. May your experiences of prayer, service, and community be greatly blessed and may you continue to be a blessing for your/our parish. Welcome to:

    • Nanda Cotturone

    • Louis and Louise Distefano

    • Josephine Giordano

    • Charles and Arlene Jacey

    • Stephen and Christine Lewis and their children Jackson, Emily and Sarah

    • Arthur McFadden

    • Barry Panzarino and Linda Tancs-Panzarino

    • Elaine Whelan
       

  • A Break in the Action? – After several weekends of elevated activity levels, this weekend at church will be a little on the mellow side. Enjoy it. But then . . . 

  • The 5K Run — Is Saturday, June 9th at 8:00 am and is part of the “iRunHillsborough” Five Race Challenge. It is better if you register before the race.

  • Father Tholitho’s Ordination – Deacon Tholitho will become Father Tholitho at the ordination liturgy on Saturday, June 9 at 11:00 am. If you have never participated in an ordination liturgy, this is your chance. Call the office if you want to go and need a ride.

  • Pancakes! – One of our most talented and ambitious CCD classes is hosting a pancake breakfast after the Masses on Sunday, June 10. If you are running in the race, this is your chance to reload your carbs! If you are not running in the race, this is your chance to enjoy pancakes and great company. 

  • Father Tholitho’s First Mass Here – Father Tholitho will be celebrating his first Mass at St James in Jamesburg on the morning of Sunday, June 10. He will then celebrate the 6:00 pm Mass here that evening. Refreshments will follow.

  • The Blessing of the Graduates – Our hope is to congratulate and bless all of our high school graduates at the 6:00 pm Mass on Sunday, June 10. We also want to send you off to your next adventure with a bible from the parish. If you have not already RSVP’d through Bob Ferretti, please email me at fhilton@loyola.edu to let me know you will be there, so we can have your bible ready.

  • 20th Anniversary – At the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, June 23, we will recognize the 20th anniversary of the dedication of our current church building. Refreshments to follow – BYOB!

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Elijah’s Promise Kitchen – Great blessings for the St. Joe’s Parishioners who regularly keep the cook fires burning at Elijah’s Kitchen. Special thanks to Terry Lee who coordinates the work of our 10-15 volunteers who, on the third Sunday of each month, prepare lunch for nearly 80 people who regularly come in off the street for their main meal of the day. Might this be a great ministry for you?

  • The Heifer Project – Plans for the summer CCD program’s service project are moving ahead at a brisk pace. Stay tuned for information about how you can support the Heifer Project – an international program that gets farm animals to the people who need them most.

  • Summer Work Trips – Also stay tuned for news about the parish’s two upcoming work trips – our Youth Group’s Trip to Newar and our Young Adult Trip to Appalachia. 

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones and all that June has in store.

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Trinity Sunday and the Call to Patience

 

“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

The incomparable familiarity of our trinitarian blessing might encourage us to think “It has always been that way.” That inference gets partial credit. The Trinity has always been there. Our understanding of it has not. Good, holy, smart, prayerful people labored for centuries to figure it out. 

 

Sunday’s first reading (Deuteronomy 4) emphasizes the existence of only one God. Many of Israel’s neighbors in the ancient Near East believed there were many small-g-gods, and their beliefs tempted Israel. Moses knew how little it took for his people to embrace their neighbors’ blunder. He reminded Israel over and over and over – There is only one God.

 

In the second reading (Romans 8) Paul refers to “Father, Christ and Spirit.” This comes close to being a Trinitarian formula, but not completely. (N.B. – See 2 Corinthians 13:13 for Paul’s most explicit reference to the Trinity). In the gospel, Matthew 28, the evangelist has Jesus speaking of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” One might infer from these passages that, by the time Jesus ascended, we understood the notion of Three Persons in One God and have clung to it ever since. We did not.

 

In 325 AD, nearly three centuries after Jesus died, the Council of Nicea concurred that Jesus was equal to God, that he was “Consubstantial with the Father.” This phrase dismissed Arius’ popular argument that Jesus was not quite God. It was not until 381 that the church fathers factored the Holy Spirit into the creed as also equal with the Father and the Son. Then, depending on how you slice it, the Church took somewhere between another three hundred and another seven hundred years to finally settle on the belief that we hold today – the belief that we celebrate on today’s feast of the Trinity – that God is three persons in one being. We took a very long time to embrace God’s truth.

 

Along the way to that final agreement, many good people lost patience with the deliberations. Their impatience caused them to act in ways that Jesus would not. Would that all those good people had trusted in God’s slow work and remained patient with God’s slow work.

 

While we cannot change history, we can change ourselves. We can recognize those situations in which we doubt God’s slow work, in which we are growing impatient and tempted to behave as Jesus would not. Where might that place be for you? In your faith? In relationships? In your personal growth? In your athletic or academic or professional life? And as you identify a situation that tries your patience, it might be helpful to keep that frustration in perspective, to ask how the matter compares with the importance of the truth of the Trinity, how long is it taking relative to the time it took for us to understand the Trinity, and how you are behaving as you deal with the frustration. 

 

Where might you benefit from consideration of Teilhard’s admonition: “Above all, be patient with the slow work of God?” 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 25, 2018

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Dear All:     

 

Great thanks and great blessings for all who made last weekend’s many events such fine ones. And may your long weekend provide some great fun and good relaxation.
 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • First Communions – Blessings for the 16 young parishioners who made their First Communions on Sunday. It was, for me, an exceptional grace to celebrate with you, to have you praying and standing at the altar so attentively, and to share the gladness you felt with your first “Amen.” Thanks and blessings too for your parents, grandparents, extended families and CCD teachers. It is a wonderful day for all of us.

  • Michael Tabernero’s Diaconate Ordination – Great thanks to the many parishioners who multiplied the joy by attending Michael’s ordination, participating in the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, and enjoying the post-Mass refreshments. Special thanks to all who set up for the refreshments, provided the edibles and cleaned up afterwards. God bless Michael – may he have years of inspired and inspiring ministry.

  • Green and White – Back to Ordinary Time – As of Tuesday (May 22), we are back to Ordinary Time. Green once again appears all around the church, except for the next two Sundays – The Feast of the Holy Trinity and the Feast of Christ’s Body and Blood. These two solemnities call for white.
     

  • Sunday’s Homily – “When Charity Overpowers Fear”

    • To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here. 

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

    • To listen to Deacon Michael’s first homily, click here. 

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • The Sound System – The installation of the sound system marches on. Per the original design, the speakers for the two outside sections (i.e., the choir section and the section behind the servers) have now been installed and the speakers for the 8:35 Mass will soon go live. Several minor tweaks have been implemented and a few more are on the way. The installation has been free of major glitches and is a great testimony to the efforts of the people who arranged it. Thanks and blessings all around.

  • Saturday, June 23 – after the 4:45 Mass – celebrate the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the new church. It will be BYOB after Mass for an hour or so.

  • 5K Run – Have you signed up already for the parish’s fifth annual 5k run? The June 9th race, which is part of the larger “Run Hillsborough” race series, benefits our Youth Group’s summer work trips. Sign-up here!

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • The Heifer Project – Plans for the summer CCD program’s service project are moving ahead at a brisk pace. Stay tuned for information about how you can support the Heifer Project – an international program that gets farm animals to the people who need them most.

  • Summer Work Trips – Also stay tuned for news about the parish’s two upcoming work trips – our Youth Group’s Trip to Paterson and our Young Adult Trip to Appalachia. 

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones and your celebrations of summer’s unofficial start!

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

When Charity Overpowers Fear

 

Sunday's Pentecost readings provide two very different versions of the same event. The gospel (John 20: 19-23) indicates that the first Christian Pentecost occurred at Easter and that it happened when Jesus conferred the Holy Spirit. The first reading (Acts 2: 1-11) depicts the Holy Spirit’s arrival as occurring without Jesus, 50 days after Easter. The apparent contradiction mirrors many others in the bible, including the creation narratives in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Scriptural inconsistencies are always worth investigating. The closer looks typically generate insight and inspiration.
 

The dissimilar accounts of Pentecost include one important similarity: both stories describe a moment when charity overpowered fear. Sunday’s gospel passage begins with the apostles huddled in a locked room, immobilized by fear for their own lives. That all changes when Jesus appears, confers the Holy Spirit and sends them. Sends them how? Sends them as he himself was sent, as an expression of the Father’s love, to draw all people to himself. The call to love coincides with a change in focus. Before the Spirit’s arrival, fear dominated their lives. After that moment, charity prevailed.
 

A similar dynamic plays out in Acts 2. Luke says nothing about the apostles being afraid, but he does claim that they were all gathered together – with a hostile community outside. He also indicates that the Spirit’s arrival enabled them to speak to others with whom they had formerly been unable to communicate. Before the Spirit’s arrival, isolation prevailed. After that moment, connection prevailed.
 

What about you? What about those situations in which you have been fearful or isolated until love changed your focus – so that you became much less concerned about what scared you and much more attuned to the opportunity to express love? Maybe you did this when you moved from fear of committing to a loved ones’ care to a loving, confident commitment to serve. Maybe you did this when you moved from fear of shaking a bad habit to a loving, committed determination to transcend the habit so you can love as you are called to love. Maybe you did this when you moved from fear of sticking up for the isolated kid or the bullied kid to a loving resolve to stand by a lonely student. Maybe you did this when you moved from fear of forgiving, because doing so might be misinterpreted, to a Christian commitment to abandon retaliatory impulses. Each of these moments is a Pentecost moment. Each time you care less about what scares you and more about the call to love, you are doing what the disciples did on Pentecost. What is your favorite bit of Pentecost autobiography?