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

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This week – February 16, 2018

Dear All: 

Christ’s Peace! 

 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • Stations of the Cross – Many generous parishioners have agreed to lead Stations of the Cross for Lent. Our thanks go to all of those volunteers. The Stations are prayed TWICE every Friday in Lent. The first round is prayed right after the 8:35 Mass – in the Memorial Hallway, where illustrations of the Stations have been placed. The second round is prayed at 7:30 pm in the main church. All are encouraged to pray the stations at least once this Lent.

  • The Lenten Challenge – Lent is here. Consider rising to all three parts of the Lenten challenge.

    • Spend six minutes each day with the “Little Black Book” (LBB) All 1000 copies of the LBB have been claimed. I’m betting that just about every person who took one is using it. Good for you! 

    • Work on a habit. Use Lent as an excuse to undertake a habit God wants you to adopt OR to break a habit God wants broken. Remember, the adjustments can be a bear but the peace is worth it.

    • Stay tuned for the upcoming Prayer to Saint Joseph.

  • Continued blessings for all who are “Meeting Christ in Prayer.” This week’s challenge – to “apply the senses” and “compose the place” while contemplating the early life of Christ – can be a challenge. Again, the stretch is worth it. Pray well!

  • Greatest thanks to all members of the Lazarus Ministry and to all who have pitched in this week to provide the six truly consoling funerals. You do a wonderful job and Lord knows you have worked hard this week. This morning’s emails contained the following from someone who recently attended a funeral here: “When I arrived at the funeral that morning, I felt such a sense of warmth and welcoming from the members of your parish.” Your work makes a great difference to our grieving parishioners – and no one matters more than our broken-hearted and faith-seeking beloved. 

Sunday’s Homily
 

Remember the serenity prayer? “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.” A first cousin of that prayer might be “God give me the grace to help when you want me to help; to do nothing when you want me to do nothing; and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

 

Sunday’s passage from Leviticus described what seems like a very harsh response to people with Leprosy. “he shall cry out, 'Unclean, unclean!' . . . He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp." Imagine how horrible you would feel if one of your loved ones had the disease and you had to abide by that no-contact rule? The rule would feel heartless and the consequences crushing. But the law’s creators were not trying to multiply misery. They were trying to limit it. The officials were declaring “you can do nothing to help, so do nothing.” What a pity it would have been if people who had no ability to improve the situation had tried, offered no real help, and died as a result.

 

In Sunday’s gospel, Jesus violates the no-touch rule and many other rules. Jesus reaches out, touches the man with leprosy, and speaks the healing word. Jesus believed he could make a difference and he did. What a pity it would have been if he could have done something and didn’t.

 

What about you? Can you name a situation in which you really want to be on the playing field but find yourself on the sidelines? A situation in which you want to help improve things, but you know you cannot change the situation or the people involved? Your efforts might only make things worse. Can you recognize God’s gratitude for your self-restraint? And what about a situation in which you might prefer to stay on the sidelines, but you know, deep down, that God is asking you to help? Name one situation in which you are getting it right by staying on the sidelines, even though you want to leap in. Name another where you might prefer the sidelines but leap in because God wants you to leap in. Cooperation with God makes us and others kind. Misguided efforts tend to make everyone cranky.

 

 

 

This Week in Community

  • Because so many parishioners are so generous with their time and so dedicated to the upbuilding of our community, last weekend was a weekend for the record book.

    • Enormous thanks to the Knights for providing yet another fantastic Pasta Night. Their mighty efforts supplied marvelous food, a great atmosphere (including the Sinatra videos – a special bonus) and inspired fellowship. Thanks to all who made it a night to remember.

    • More thanks to all who organized our Celebration of Marriage. Nearly 120 couples participated in the jubilant event. Thanks to our Music Ministry for the extra special music. Thanks too to our anonymous party-providers. The wedding photographs, the food, the decorations, the whole bit. What a superb celebration it was. THANKS. For a special treat, check out the pictures taken by Jorge Mantilla - they are priceless.

This Week in Service
 

  • On Saturday, in between Friday’s Pasta Night and Sunday’s Celebration of Marriage, our Youth Group was prowling the town committing Random Acts of Kindness. The resulting inventory is remarkable:

    • 64 – Bagged Lunches for Samaritan Homeless Intervention Program (SHIP)

    • 120 – Flowers distributed to Avalon residents and staff

    • 5 – Gift packages for our local Police, Fire and EMS

    • 315 – Cups of Coffee for Dunkin Donuts Drive-Thru Customers

    • 85 – Encouraging notes in Library Books

    • 60 – Reassuring notes in Mailboxes

    • 120 – Quarters left for laundromat patrons

    • 116 – Hidden gifts around town 

    • 70 – Healthy dog treats for St. Hubert's Animal Shelter

    • 300 – Cards/notes of encouragement

    • Uncountable – number of smiles evoked, especially among the lonely!

  • The Morning of Recollection for people in ALL PARISH MINISTRIES will be on Saturday, March 3.  It is a terrific opportunity to spend a little more time in reflection and lot more time with the other people in your ministries.  Take a morning to consider the good you do.  Please RSVP to your ministry leader by February 20.  AND, bring your smart phone on March 3.

  • The Morning of Spring Cleaning will be on Saturday March 24. Lists of chores will be posted in early March. Meanwhile, round up a small group of folk willing to help spruce up the parish.

  • Be on the lookout - starting February 24 the Knights of Columbus and the Columbiettes will be handing out bags for you to fill with requested cleaning products to support the Feeding Hands Food Pantry

  • All best blessings for the people who signed up for a new ministry during this season’s Ministry Recruiting drive. The results are still to be tallied but many groups clearly got big boosts! 

With special thanks to those who have served so selflessly this week and with best blessings for all.

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - January 5, 2018

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Dear All: 

 

Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany.

 

I trust your celebrations of Christmas yielded plenty of comfort and joy and maybe, just maybe, a few minutes to recall some of the many ways God used you to renew the face of the earth in 2017. 

 

This Week in Prayer 

 

This Sunday’s readings, for the feast of the Epiphany, will wrap up the eight weeks of reflections on the choices we make, what entitles us to trust that our choices line up with God’s hopes, and what gets in the way of us acting on those inspired choices.

 

Our Christmas readings remind us that inspired choices sometimes generate inconvenience but, like the members of the Holy Family (and Rudolph!), we pursue those inspired choices and try not to count the cost. The readings for the Feast of the Holy Family describe people who make inspired choices, even though those inspired choices put them at risk. 

 

The scripture passages for New Year’s Day, the Feast of Mary the Mother of God identify a genre of risk that our inspired choices sometimes activate. Inspired choices sometimes lead us into uncharted territory. That can be a risky and slightly scary place to live. Mary’s “Yes” to God, to become the mother of Jesus, led her into an experience that no human had ever had or imagined. It was completely uncharted territory. The same for Joseph. The Israelites in the first reading said “yes” to God’s invitation to return home. That response led them into territory that their ancestors knew but they had never visited. For them, but not for everyone, it was uncharted territory.

 

Inspired choices frequently take us into uncharted territory. Catholic missionaries through the ages have ended up in lands unknown precisely because they said ‘Yes” to God. Closer to home, our personal heroes have done the same. All of us have ancestors who came to this country when it was, for them, an unfamiliar land. Inspired choices brought many of them into this strange land.

 

What about you? Can you recall a time or two when you had all your spiritual ducks in a row when you strove to make the choice God wanted you to make and, as a result, ended up in uncharted territory? Perhaps it was in the school cafeteria when you sat with a lonely kid in a part of the room you had never visited before? Maybe it was when you chose to get healthy and had to live, perhaps for the first time, according to the inspired but unfamiliar guidelines of recovery. Maybe it was when you decided to go back to work or school after raising your children. Can you see that experience as reminiscent of what the children of Israel were up to in the Exodus and what Mary and Joseph were doing in Bethlehem? Surely, most of our trips into uncharted territory are not as consequential as those the Bible describes, but they are our trips and they are part of our story and they matter – especially if, as happened for the bible characters, they lead us to a consoling encounter with Christ.

  • It was a great happiness to greet so many of you at the Christmas and New Year Masses. A special thanks to those brought neighbors and relatives who rarely go to church. Keep up the great work. Bring them back! And if they didn’t already receive a copy of “Positively Catholic,” pick one up at mass this weekend and give them a copy. They’re on the house! (Special thanks to the parishioner who has again donated 1200 books)
     

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

 

This Week in Community

  • It takes a parish to make it all happen. You are a pretty remarkable bunch. To all those who went way above and beyond to serve our community at Christmas, thank you. Our musicians, servers, ushers, EMs, lectors, sacristans, church decorators and parish staff have outdone themselves again. The Christmas Eve 4:00 pm Mass had nearly 1300 people. The other Masses (except the 7:15 am) averaged about 400 at each Mass. Every Mass was very beautiful – because so many chipped in to help.

  • The extra special music at all Masses was a great help to our prayer. Thanks to the children who sang so magnificently at the 4:00 pm.Thanks to Laurie and co. at the 6:00. Thanks to Frank and co. at the 10 pm and the concert that preceded it. Extra special thanks to Andrea and Tim who worked marvels at the 9:30 and 11:30. Might some who have gotten in the habit of the 4:00 pm enjoy the special music at the 9:30 and 11:30 next year? Then again, whatever works for you is the way to go!

  • The numbers are still preliminary, but you clearly gave very generously to the Christmas collection. Your generosity will continue to make good things happen.

  • Mark your calendars . . . After the holidays, I will soon be offering two programs in Adult Faith Formation – “Meeting Christ in Prayer,” is an eight-week offering that helps people to grow in prayer. The other program, “The Sacraments” is more catechetical in nature. Sign up sheets will be available starting next weekend. Interestingly, there seems to be an especially strong interest in the prayer program. If the interest is extremely strong, I might offer just that program this year and hold off on the sacrament course. Let me know your preferences.

  • Family Bingo Night is Friday, January 26. Those who attended last year know what a great time it was. We have 25,000 BINGO chips at the ready and a whole lot of great prizes!

  • The Annual Pasta Dinner will be on Friday, February 9. 

  • On Sunday, February 9 at the 9:30 Mass, we will be honoring married couples. Stay tuned for details.

This Week in Service

  • January and February will be our time forministry recruiting. Give it some thought. Is it time to try something new? Is it time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying? Or maybe it is time to renew your commitment to what you are already doing. Check out the BIG calendar in the gathering space for the schedule of ministries that are recruiting.

  • KNIT YOUR BIT! Join in a parish community project to knit or crochet scarves for veterans. Pick up instructions, yarn, knitting needles and crochet hooks in the gathering space, and Knit Your Bit!

  • Young adults - you asked for a service opportunity and we have a great one for you. A week in Appalachia this summer. If you are between 18-25 years old and are interested, Bob Ferretti for more information. 

With all best blessings for 2018.

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

I hope God greatly blesses your celebration of Christmas. I hope too that the holyday provides a moment when you can take the long view when you can review your year’s choices in the light of Advent’s readings.

 

In this chapter of our human existence, our goal is to make choices that align with God’s hopes. But how do we know if our choices are truly inspired? How can we tell if they truly line up with God’s hopes? Scripture and our Catholic tradition provide invaluable insights. If our choices satisfy the standards set forth in scripture and our tradition, then we can be pretty sure those choices also align with God’s hopes. 

 

Human experience provides another way to review our choices. This Advent’s Sunday readings remind us that we can trust our choices, we can surmise they align with God’s hopes if they:

  • Lead us toward an experience of true spiritual consolation rather than toward desolation (Dec. 3)

  • Arise from an experience of true interior freedom rather than from disordered attachments (Dec. 10)

  • Improve others’ experience of life, especially the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives and 

    the prisoners among us (Dec. 17)
  • Cause us to credit God, at least interiorly, for the good that flows through us – i.e., the good 

    that we experience flowing from God, through us, and into God’s world (also Dec. 17)
  • Optimize our experience of dependence on God and our willingness to cooperate humbly with 

    God (Dec. 24)

The Christmas midnight readings then remind us of an ironic experience: even though certain choices satisfy all or most of these criteria, they can still be very inconvenient. Inspired choices are sometimes like that. 

They sometimes complicate rather than simplify our lives. 

 

True inspiration prompted Joseph to honor the angels and Mary, even though doing so was an inconvenience. True inspiration led Mary to say yes to God and yes to the journey to Bethlehem, even though doing so was inconvenient. True inspiration prompted the second person of the Trinity to become a human and to be born in a barn, even though becoming human was the ultimate inconvenience. Just about every person in the Christmas story made a very inspired choice, even though doing so caused major inconvenience.

 

You do the same thing. You're regularly making inspired choices even though doing so is inconvenient. In the language of Isaiah 9, you bring light to those who “dwell in the darkness” of isolation when you reach out to them and honor them and share laughs with them. You do that even when doing so is inconvenient. You bring others “abundant joy and great rejoicing” when you take the time to multiply their joy – even when doing so is inconvenient. And you “smash . . . the rod of their taskmaster” when you help them find freedom from bad habits or stultifying choices – even when doing so is inconvenient. 

 

Go ahead. Get specific. Name several of the choices you made in 2017 – as priest, prophet, and king – that were both inspired and inconvenient, that imitated the people who gave us Christmas. 

 

How about your choices as a person of prayer? What about the times when your prayer life frustrated you and you stuck with it, despite the inconvenience? What about the times when you persisted in praying for others, despite the inconvenience. And try not to forget the times when you got your family to church, despite the inconvenience. 

How about your choices as a prophet who consoles and challenges others? Surely you offered much consolation and a good deal of challenge in 2017, even though doing so was inconvenient. You did that through your ministries at church and you did it in 101 other ways. Name a few of those ways.

 

And you made inspired choices to build up your communities. You participated in parish functions or family events or charitable groups even when you didn’t really feel like it. Can you name a few of those times?

 

Christmas happened because Jesus, Mary, and Joseph made inspired choices, choices that lined up with the Father’s hopes, even when those choices involved inconvenience. You have imitated their Christmas choices many times this year. Go ahead and name a few. Thank God for the ability to have done so. Ask God for the grace to keep doing so. Your choice to take the inspired path – even when doing so is inconvenient – renews the face of the earth, makes the angels sing, and gladdens our savior. Every time you make the inspired but inconvenient choice, you are perpetuating the Christmas miracle.

 

May God bless your celebration of Christmas and may God bless your effort to notice the moments when you have imitated Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. And for what it is worth, know that it is a privilege and an enormous blessing to be your pastor.

 

With love, thanks and admiration, 

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - December 14, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

Peace to you as we move into Advent’s home stretch.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Here in the first chapter of our human existence, our goal is to make choices that align with God’s hopes. Doing so brings great peace in chapter one and eternal bliss in chapter three.

 

But how do we know if our choices are lining up with God’s hopes? We consult the scripture and we consult our tradition. We also consult our experience. Properly interpreted, our experience can tell us much about our choices and whether they line up with God’s hopes. 

 

The readings of Advent’s first Sunday remind us that our choices’ consequences reveal much. Choices that line up with God’s hopes tend to lead us to spiritual consolation, to palpable increases in serenity, spiritual fervor, faith, hope, and the active concern and service of others we call “charity.” Choices that do not line up with God’s hopes steer us toward desolation, the opposite of consolation. Sometimes the consolations and desolations are quite powerful. Sometimes they are more subtle. 

 

Last Sunday’s readings remind us that our choices’ roots also reveal much. Some choices are rooted in interior freedom – i.e., the state-of-soul in which nothing matters more than the goal of knowing, wanting and doing what God wants. Other choices are rooted in disordered attachments – the state of-soul in which my choices are organized around other goals.

 

Sunday’s passage from Isaiah 40 speaks to the very loveable members of a community that had been exiled from its home for 70 years. Many wanted to return from Babylon to Jerusalem. Quite a few were unsure or opposed the prospect. Some feared the trip across the desert. Others liked their lives in Babylon. Isaiah did his best to assure the people that God wanted them to go home. Sadly, their very understandable but disordered attachments to worry-management and familiarity kept them from asking first and foremost “What does God want?” Hence, many were inclined to stay.

 

In Sunday’s gospel, John the Baptist appears as the poster child for interior freedom. The location of his work, the clothes he wore, the food he ate, the message he delivered, the challenges he raised – everything about him shouted of his pervasive desire to do only what God was asking him to do, clear the way for Jesus by announcing him and by encouraging people to repent.

 

Each of us can relate to the Exiles and each of us can relate to John the Baptist. Our souls hold a mix of freedom and attachments. In some choice-making settings, we ask the truly inspired questions. In others, not so much. Each of us has also moved beyond the reach of certain disordered attachments. God’s grace has enabled us to move to greater interior freedom. 

 

What about you? As you review your history, what two or three disordered attachments have (a) kept you from truly seeking God’s desire and (b) then lost their grip on you? What uninspired choices did the attachments produce? What desolations did they yield? Most of all, how did God free you? Was it mostly through the prophets in your life? Through interior lights? Through prayer?

  • Our parish’s Advent penance service is Tuesday at 7:30 pm. Many friendly, compassionate priests will be available to hear confessions. (We do a pretty good job of keeping the mean ones out.) As we renew our review of our choices, there are some we want to bring to the sacrament. See you there?

  • Once again, God bless the parishioners who reply to God’s nudge to go to confession. What a gift it is to pray with the Saturdayregulars and what a special grace it is to welcome people who have been away for years. Thank you for the privilege of praying with you. I will be in the confessional from 3:30 to 4:25 this Saturday. If you cannot get through the line by 4:25, I am more than happy to hear your confession after Mass. Also, email me if you would like me to hear your confession in my office.

  • HOLIDAY MASS TIMES – check the bulletins etc. Monday Christmas provides two odd twists. 

    • First, the early part of Sunday, December 24 is the Fourth Sunday of Advent while the second half (starting at 4 pm) is Christmas Eve. The idea is to go to one Mass for the fourth week of Advent and another for Christmas. If you go to two Masses on Sunday – absolutely don’t worry about receiving communion twice in one day – not a problem. 

    • Second, even though January 1 is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is great day to go to Mass. We will have Mass for the feast at 6:00 pm on New Year’s Eve (Sunday night) and at 8:30 on New Year’s day (Monday morning).
       

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily (this week's homily was not recorded due to a technical difficulty)

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings

This Week in Community

  • What fun it was to see so many people at Sunday’s concert. The size of the crowd surprised even optimistic me. Great thanks to the members of the Raritan Valley Chorus who sang so beautifully.

  • Great thanks to all who continue to beautify the church for Christmas. The downside of Christmas on Monday is that it makes the final decorating push a double-turn-around-jump-shot. But the place will be beautiful, and our thanks go to all who make it that way.

  • The other glitch with Monday Christmas is that it tends to confuse the use of the offertory envelopes. If you can give what you gave last year – both for the last Sunday of the year AND for Christmas – we will be in good shape. No one should stress about it. If you are having a bad financial year, do not fret over the year-end collections, even a little. If you are having a good year, it would be great if you could repeat last year’s gifts. If you can cover a little extra for the people in tough financial shape, great.

  • Mark your calendars . . . After the holidays, I will be offering two programs in Adult Faith Formation, i.e., two opportunities for adults to take a next step in growing their faith. Both programs will last eight weeks and will start during the week of January 29 and end during the week of March 19. The Monday program, “Meeting Christ in Prayer,” is an eight-week offering that helps people to grow in prayer. It involves weekly meetings of small groups. No surprise, it is based on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. The Wednesday program “The Sacraments” is more catechetical in nature. After the first session, the program will look at one sacrament each week. Details will surface after Christmas.

This Week in Service

  • Your response to the Giving Tree Project has been pretty amazing. I will have details for you after Christmas. For now, trust that you have brought much happiness to many people. God is working through you in so very many ways.

  • Great thanks too to all who made the Baby-bottle drive a rollicking success. Those numbers will also be finalized after Christmas. You have made it possible for many women in difficult circumstances to take a different approach to their child’s birth. You have given them a room in an inn. Good for you.

  • January and February will be our time for ministry recruiting. Give it some thought. Is it time to try something new? Is it time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying?

May the season’s busy-ness produce much good fun and may this be a time when the blessings of spiritual peace, despite the hub-bub, swamp you in wonderful ways. Count on special prayers for those who are going through doing a difficult medical or another personal patch this season.

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - December 8, 2017

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Dear All: 

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception – a mysterious and marvelous feast. Mysterious in that no gospel passage describes it. Marvelous in that it marks the dawn of our salvation. It has been a tremendous gift to pray with so many of you at the feast day masses. It will be good to see even more at tonight’s7:30 Mass. 

 

This Week in Prayer 


“Key words” for this coming Sunday’s homily.

  • Interior Freedom: The ability to make a choice based primarily on the discerned belief that the choice I am making, among all the options, is the most inspired choice, the choice that aligns most closely with God’s hope.

  • Disordered Attachment: A desire that keeps me from interior freedom; a goal that matters more to me than the goal of making the most inspired choice.

Homily for the First Sunday in Advent

 

“Be watchful! . . . be on the watch . . . Watch, therefore
. . . I say to all 'Watch!'"

 

Sunday’s gospel issues four warnings to “watch.” But what are we to watch? Are we to watch the clouds for the Son of Man’s return? Extraordinary natural phenomenon? Signs of the end times? 

 

Or perhaps God is urging us to watch something more up-close and personal. Perhaps God is asking to watch, among other things, our choices and the extent to which they align with God’s hopes? Perhaps the gospel is urging us to notice the consequences of our choices and to watch the ways in which our choices help or hinder God’s effort to lead all people, selves included, to a deeper experience of Christ’s peace. Perhaps it is ok to hear the gospel as saying “Discern! Discern! Discern!” But how do we do that? How do we discern? How do we know if our choices align with God’s hopes?

 

Our tradition gives us a tried-and-true way to evaluate our choices. Choices that align with God’s hopes tend to lead us to consolation, to deeper peace, faith, hope and charity, and to deeper and more delighted concern for others. Choices that don’t align with God’s hopes tend to lead us to desolation, the opposite of consolation. There are exceptions and subtleties, but the basic dynamic is as reliable as the dawn: evaluate your choices by the consolation or desolation they yield.

 

Sunday’s passage from Isaiah offers a classic portrayal of spiritual desolation: “you let us wander . . . and harden our hearts . . . you are angry.” Most distressing of all, they tell God “you have hidden your face from us.” Their choices have led them to acute desolation.

 

In the second reading, Saint Paul affirms many components of the Corinthians’ consolation: “in (Jesus) you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, you are not lacking in any spiritual gift . . . He will keep you firm to the end.” The Corinthians have made choices that align with God’s hopes. Those choices continue to make them “irreproachable” and consoled.

 

What about you? Looking back, can you name some choices that led you to consolation? Perhaps they were about a bold move or a big change. Perhaps they were little choices about ways of praying or playing or working. Maybe they were choices about relationships. When have you made choices that have led you to consolation? Looking back, can you see that those choices were inspired? And what about choices that led you to desolation? Can you see that they maybe did not line up with God’s hopes? And what does all that say about upcoming choices? 

 

This Week in Community

  • God bless OUR KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS! They knocked it out of the park once again in preparing and serving breakfast for more than 300 people. We are blessed to have such an extraordinarily devoted group among us. I encourage even more men to consider joining the K of C and helping the parish.

  • The big Christmas concert is Sunday at 3:00 pm. Those who have heard the Raritan Valley Chorus know their music is excellent. Almost all the free tickets for parishioners have already been claimed. I will have a few more to hand before and after Sunday Masses. Tickets for others are $10.

  • Thanks to all the Blue Storm basketball players and the program organizers who added so much by serving at Sunday’s 9:30Mass.

  • Mark your calendars . . . After the holidays, I will be offering two programs in Adult Faith Formation, i.e., two opportunities for adults to take a next step in growing their faith. Both programs will last eight weeks and will start during the week of January 29 and end during the week of March 19. The Monday program, “Meeting Christ in Prayer,” is an eight-week offering that helps people to grow in prayer. It involves weekly meetings of small groups. No surprise, it is based on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. The Wednesday program “The Sacraments” is more catechetical in nature. After the first session, the program will look at one sacrament each week. Details will surface after Christmas.

  • Thanks to the many who have decorated our church for Advent and Christmas. You know who you are and you know what a great job you do – in making it possible for people to pray more deeply.

This Week in Service

  • The response to our Advent Giving Treecontinues to be excellent. Thanks and more thanks. Your kindness will make a big difference to many. The gifts will be distributed to all of the agencies this coming week so please do your best to bring them to the Memorial Hallway as soon as you can.

  • This weekend is the final week to turn in your Baby-Bottle! Don’t stress but do what you can.

  • If you are planning on upgrading your home’s television, please consider donating your old (but working) LCD (flat screen) TV to us to use in our CCD classrooms. Contact Bob Ferretti if you think you may be able to help us in this way.

  • January and February will be time for ministry recruiting. Give it some thought. Is it time to try something new? Is it time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying?

May Advent be a time of great blessing for you.

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

I hope Thanksgiving brought you a good, extra dose of Christ’s peace. I hope Advent will do more of the same. 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Pardon the slight change in this week’s “This Week.” The December homilies will address the question of “discernment”. That pursuit requires a bit of information about the spiritual states of “consolation” and “desolation.” Hence the prayer part of this week’s “This Week” contains two parts, a review Sunday’s homily and a review of discernment, consolation, and desolation. 

  • Sunday’s Homily for the Feast of Christ the King: Chapter One’s Call to Discernment

Every human life contains three chapters. Each chapter includes a unique job description. 

 

Chapter One starts when we start and ends when our bodies die. Chapter one, the chapter in which you and I currently find ourselves, is the chapter that keeps our earthly bodies integrated with our souls. Our fundamental, chapter-one duty, according to one of many possible descriptions, is “to know what God wants, to want what God wants, and to do what God wants.” Sunday’s first reading from Ezekiel provides a great analogy for our chapter one existence. We are the sheep who are always under the shepherd’s care but who frequently make goofy or sinful choices that lead to hurt.

 

Chapter two starts when we die and ends when Jesus Christ the King returns. During chapter two, the remnants of our earthly bodies remain interred in sacred ground and our souls move toward the fullness of Christ’s peace. St. Paul reminds us in Sunday’ssecond reading that, because Adam did what Adam did, we will all experience death. And because Jesus did what Jesus did, we can look forward to eternal life after our earthly death. Our chapter-two job is simply to complete the spiritual purification, aided by the prayers of the chapter-one folks who can pray for us. For some, the ones we call “saints,” the purification process is already complete and their souls feast on God’s presence.

 

Chapter three begins when Jesus Christ the King returns to end history and launch eternity. Sunday’sgospel reminds us that He will return. Sunday’s gospel also provides the scriptural version of the phrase we repeat every time we recite the creed: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Each of us will enter Chapter Three at that moment and God will then reintegrate our glorified bodies and our purified souls. Our chapter-three job will then be simple, blissful, and never-ending, “to behold God beholding us” and to do so “with our own eyes.” (We recall the possibility of the hellish, eternal separation from God, and we strive to make the choices that prevent that result.) 

 

So here we are in chapter one, trying to do our chapter-one job, to know what God wants, want what God wants and do what God wants. We can never fully know God’s mind but we can experience a profound sense of “this choice aligns best with God’s hope.” What about you? What are some of your “convincers”? What happens in your guts, heart and/or head in those moments when you trust that the choice you are making is the one that aligns best with God’s hopes? Is it a feeling? A conviction? A hunch? Regardless of how old you are, you have made many inspired choices in your life, choices that align with God’s hopes. If you had to explain to a visiting angel how you know when a choice is the right one, i.e., one that answer’s Christ the King’s call, what would you say?

  • Discernment, Consolation, and Desolation

The Advent homilies will focus on “discernment,” “consolation” and “desolation.” 

  • Discernment: The process of striving for clarity about God’s desire is called “discernment.” As one of the real pros on the subject says, “In essence, discernment is a decision-making process that honors the place of God's will in our lives. It is an interior search that seeks to align our own will with the will of God in order to learn what God is calling us to.” 

  • Spiritual consolation is an experience of being so on fire with God’s love that we feel impelled to praise, love, and serve God and help others as best as we can. Spiritual consolation encourages and facilitates a deep sense of gratitude for God’s faithfulness, mercy, and companionship in our life. In consolation, we feel more alive and connected to others.

  • Spiritual desolation, in contrast, is an experience of the soul in heavy darkness or turmoil. We are assaulted by all sorts of doubts, bombarded by temptations, and mired in self-preoccupations. We are excessively restless and anxious and feel cut off from others. Such feelings, in Ignatius’s words, “move one toward lack of faith and leave one without hope and without love.”
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

 

This Week in Community

  • SMELL (and eat) THE PANCAKES. The Knights will be cooking up a breakfast storm Sunday morning after all the Masses. If you’ve been there before, you know you don’t want to miss this.

  • Speaking of storms – the BLUE STORM basketballers will be serving in many liturgical roles at the 9:30 Mass this Sunday, December’s Young Ministers Mass. Looking forward to praying with you and then eating pancakes with you.

  • The Raritan Valley Chorus will hold its Advent/Christmas/Winter concert here at St. Joe’s on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 pm.Tickets are free for parishioners who stop by the office to pick them up. Otherwise, admission is $10. So REMEMBER TO PICK UP YOUR FREE TICKET BEFORE NEXT FRIDAY.

  • A great big welcome to our newest parishioners: Frank Cichon; Dorothy Voorhees; Onasis and Fabiola Espinal; David & Diane Mory and their children, Connor and Ryan; John & Mona Reilly and their children Nina and Luke; Corinne Sicola, and; Robert & Leslie Torok. We are glad you joined St. Joe’s!

  • The same welcome and blessings go out to the families of the five babies baptized here recently. (Since I haven’t yet obtained permission to name them publicly, I won’t – but stay tuned)

This Week in Service

  • Great thanks to Keelin Glennon for single-handedly replacing all the old hymnals with the new hymnals. It was a colossal undertaking for one woman, but given Keelin’s training at St. Nicholas Tollentine, it came as no bic surprise that she pulled it off.

  • Becca’s Friends Social Club is selling packages of note cards derived from their paintings at the pancake breakfast. Sales will continue after most masses in the gathering space during Advent. ALL proceeds from this sale help the Camp Jontoni Summer Campership Fund for special needs children and adults of the ARC of Somerset County.

  • Once again, bravo for our pumpkin patch kids who, under the inspired direction of Ann Quinn, made a very sizeable donation to Hillsborough Food Bank. They raised the money by growing and selling pumpkins at church

  • The response to our Advent Giving Tree has been excellent. Thanks and more thanks. Your kindness will make a big difference to many. A few more tags still need to be taken – and remember – the presents that are bound for Appalachia are due on Sunday, December 3.

  • This weekend is the ideal time to turn in your Baby-Bottle! Don’t stress but do what you can.

  • January and February will be time for ministry recruiting. Give it some thought. Is it time to try something new? Is it time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying?

May Advent’s start be a time of true consolation for you.

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All:
 

Count on three prayers for you this week: that God will make you even more aware of the gifts God gives you, that God will make you even more aware that “all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,” and that your celebrations of the holiday will be just what God wants for you.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

The green Sundays are now behind us. This coming Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. The Sundayafter that is the first Sunday of Advent. Hence, this coming Sunday’s vestments are white, and the next four Sundays’ are purple. These last three green Sundays have included valuable advice from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. On November 5, he reminded us to work hard at our God-given missions. The message on November 12 was “persevere.” Last Sunday, the 19th, he urged us to know when to trust our choices and when to defer to others or to keep praying and consulting.

 

In Sunday’s brief second reading, 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6, Paul tells the Thessalonians six times that they are good, inspired, and trustworthy. In most matters, they can trust that their choices. Those choices – about faith and family and community and kindness and other matters – probably line up with God’s hopes. Ironically, those affirmations follow some significant reprimands. Chapter four contains a very stern message: “When dating and marrying, you Christians of Thessalonica should not immediately trust your instincts or choices.” They needed to recognize that, on some topics. their instincts and choices lined up with God’s hopes and were trustworthy. On other topics, not so much.

 

Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 25: 14-30) alters the message slightly. It reminds us that, at certain times in our lives, it is probably better not to trust some of our instincts and choices. The gospel’s one-talent fellow illustrates the point. He clearly possesses observable aptitudes. The master in the story would not have given him even a single talent, the equivalent of three-years’ wages if that servant had not demonstrated good judgment. But fear overtook the servant. Excessive worry prompted him to bury the assets rather than grow them. Wouldn’t he have been better off if he had acknowledged the fear and admitted to himself, “this is not a good time for me to be making such choices”? 

 

Each of us is gifted in many ways. Each of us has what it takes to make inspired choices that align with God’s hopes. But not a one of us is all-knowing. Each of us has limits. Each of us is a more effective disciple when able to admit “I’m not good with this topic” or “I’m not good at this time.” What about you? How do you know when the topic or the time renders your judgment unreliable? How do you know when your choices probably line up with God’s hopes and when they probably do not? Is it a gut feeling? If so, how would you describe that feeling? Is it a more spiritual feeling? Do you notice the ebbs and flows of faith, hope, charity, and serenity? Maybe we experience more of those graces when our choices are inspired and less of those graces when our choices do not align with God’s. How would you explain to another when you know your choices are inspired?

 

And in sorting it out, we recall, “feel good” is not the criterion. Jesus made the world’s most inspired decision when he chose to give his life for us. He did not make that choice because it provided immediate gratification. How do you suppose he knew that choice was the right one?

  • Remember the special Mass times for Thanksgiving Masses. There will be a 5:00 pm Mass on Wednesday followed by an hour or so of indoor tailgating for adults. There will also be an 8:30 Mass on Thursday morning. There will be blessings of food after both Masses. As far as I can tell, the custom in this part of the world is to leave your turkeys at home and bring a bit of the bread and or wine or some other small thing that will be a part of your celebration.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

 

This Week in Community

  • Maybe it will be the start of a new parish thing. Maybe not. But no harm in trying. Join the hour or so of indoor tailgating after the 5:00 pmMass on Wednesday. If we get it going, it could easily become a prime time for our college students to reconnect. Plus, it is a great time to chill – between the shopping and the major cooking push. Bring your own munchies and bring a friend. We’ll have the fireplace in our renovated Hospitality Room going for you.

  • Thanks to all who made Sunday’s wreath-making event such a fine one. Special thanks to Donna DeLucia and Holly Canica and all who pitched in. And great big blessings for the families that will light their Advent wreaths at home and will be extra attentive to God’s promise to give us Christmas and all it implies.

  • We still have two big Advent events in the offing:. 

    • The annual Advent Pancake Breakfast is Sunday, December 3, Feast of St Francis Xavier! That is also the morning of the CYM Young Minister’s Mass.

    • The Raritan Valley Chorus will hold its Advent/Christmas/Winter concerthere at St. Joe’s on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 pm. Tickets are free for parishioners who stop by the office to pick them up. Otherwise, admission is $10.

This Week in Service

  • Friday night and Saturday mornings were moments of exceptional devotion here at St. Joe’s.

  • On Friday night, members of our Becca’s Friends Ministry painted Christmas pictures for cards to be sold for an ARC summer campership fund. The paintings can now be viewed in the Gathering Space.

  • And while Becca’s Friends were painting, members of our Advent Giving Tree Ministryinstalled the Giving Tree in the Gathering Space and did a most remarkable job of decorating it. They also attached 800 tags – each connected to a nifty little angel handmade by Krissy Case. (Please notice the due date on your tag. The gifts that are going to Appalachia are due December 3. The rest are due December 10.) 

  • Meanwhile, back in the Memorial Hallway, members of our Youth Ministry sorted over two thousand  pounds of Thanksgiving food for Saturday morning distribution to 5 area agencies

  • Then came Saturday morning when the Knights of Columbus picked up and delivered 75 rolling carts for food bank clients in Somerville – while several others came to load and deliver all the food that the UTES had sorted on Friday night. 

Again, it was one of those moments when all parishioners could lean back for a moment and think, as the poem almost says, “We are a church that has done what a church should do, a church that has sheltered life . . . “

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is well underway. If you haven’t already picked up a bottle to fill, give it some thought. If you already have, think about returning it full, if your means allow. 

  • January and February will be time for ministry recruiting. Give it some thought. Is it time to try something new? Is it time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying?

May these next days be days of great blessings. A prayer for all travelers and, for those who might overdo it just a little, a prayer for only inspired amounts of self-recrimination. And absolutely a prayer for those who feel the absence of someone special at the table. 

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - November 17, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians continues to inspire our November Sundays. In last week’s passage, Paul urged us to work hard at the at whatever mission God has given us. This week he urges us to persevere in that work, especially when the going gets rough.

 

Paul loved the Thessalonian Christians. He wanted whatever promoted their spiritual welfare. Thus, he worried when their excessive concern with the details of Jesus’ Second Coming threatened their faith. Rather than give up on them, he redoubled his efforts. Sunday’s explanation of the Parousia expresses Paul’s devotion. He wanted them to relax. He wanted them to trust that everything he had taught them about the resurrection was true. Paul could have washed his hands of the Thessalonians and their uninspired preoccupations. But he did not give up. He persevered.

 

Sunday’s gospel also underscores the need to persevere. The wise bridesmaids might have been tempted to share their oil with the others, but doing so would have been a bad idea. The sharing might have generated goodwill, but the sharing would have prevented everyone from achieving their goal. Had the oil been divided ten ways, nobody would have had enough to light the groom’s way back to the house. The wise women had to keep their oil so they could complete their task. They had to persevere in their task, even though doing so would have reduced their popularity.

 

Jesus gives us the perfect example of one who persevered in his God-given task, even when the going became unimaginably tough. He stuck to his mission even when giving in might have saved his life and rescued him from torture. Every effort to persevere benefits from contemplation of our persevering savior.

 

What about you? When have you persevered in your God-given mission, even though giving up and giving in would have reduced the hardship? When have you stuck with it – in relationships, in your work, in your prayer, in your vocation, in your avocation, in your inspired recreation or inspired studies, or in many other places – even though sticking with it made your life difficult? Our celebration of Veterans’ Day reminds us that many among us had to hang tough even when all seemed lost. They had to keep believing the goal was inspired and achievable and worth pursuing. When have you lived a similar resolution? When have you persevered and been glad you did? And where might God be asking you now to hang in there, to persevere, to “toil and not to seek” escape?

 

This Week in Community

  • Thanks to all who made our Veterans’ Day celebration a truly inspired event. Dozens of people pitched in to honor and thank our veterans. Special thanks to Debra Grimmer and her main co-pilots, Dianne Mantilla and Anna Maria Realbuto. Great thanks to the Knights and Columbiettes who did more than their share. Extra kudos to those who showed up before dawn to get the ovens going and the preparations started, especially John Rossi, Guy Gubitosi, Steve Tafaro, Tom Kelly, Rick Jankowy and Michael De Lucia. Big thanks too to the confirmation students who helped with the lunch. You looked quite spiffy in your white shirts and blue jeans. You were great and gracious help.

  • Light is on the way! The building inspector has just granted the permits we need to install additional lights by the church’s front door – to make it safer and easier to come to and go from Sunday Masses in this darker time of year.

  • We will have two Thanksgiving Masses and blessings of food. One on Wednesday evening at 5:00 and another at the usual time, 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. 

  • Yes, it is already time to mark your calendars for our parish’s Advent and Christmas events. 

    • The family afternoon for making Advent Wreathes is this Sunday, November 19 from 12:30 to 3:00 pm in the Parish Hall. You can still sign up on Friday. 

    • The Giving Tree has appeared in the Gathering Space. If you are in a position to buy a gift, take a tag and return your tagged gift to the Memorial Hallway. You will make someone’s Christmas a blessed day.

    • The annual Advent Pancake Breakfast is Sunday, December 3, Feast of St Francis Xavier! That is also the morning of the CYM Young Minister’s Mass.

    • The Raritan Valley Chorus will hold its Advent/Christmas/Winter concert here at St. Joe’s on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 pm. Tickets are free for parishioners who stop by the office to pick them up. Otherwise, admission is $10.

  • Thank you very much to the many people who, after the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, helped get the Memorial Trees back in order – and got the names alphabetized, no small task. 

  • The Blue Storm uniforms have now been distributed. And get this - - - This year we have more than 300 parish hoopsters. God bless the athletes, the coaches and all the program organizers.

This Week in Service

  • The list of remarkable service projects has a new and somewhat dazzling entry – the Shopping Cart Project. The Paul Gubitosi Charitable Fund – along with the Knights of Columbus, the Columbiettes and our Social Ministries coordinators – has purchased 75 shopping carts to be given to individuals who walk great distances to obtain food for their families at area food pantries. Think of how ingenious this project is. Many people who rely on the pantries must walk several miles to get there and several miles home. The collapsible shopping carts will make life much better for these people. God bless all who helped.

  • The Thanksgiving Food Collection was a resounding success! Thank you to everyone that donated food - your generosity will allow many families that would otherwise not be able to enjoy the holiday to celebrate Thanksgiving.

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Great thanks to all who participate in our Music Ministries – as you head into the season of extra rehearsals and other demands. God bless you for all you do to help all of us to pray.

  • It is almost the season to start thinking about your ministerial life at St. Joe’s. All ministries will be recruiting in January. Might it be time to try a new ministry or return to an old one? Or maybe it is time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying. Either way, think about it.

May God bless each one of you as you head into Thanksgiving week. It will be a great grace to welcome back all our college students, especially those first-year folk who will be coming home for their first extended stay since August. May God multiply the joy of all for whom the holiday is full of delight. May God divide the sadness of those who will be missing someone this year. And for all who travel, may God bring you safely back home to St. Joe’s. 

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

These first three Sundays in November give us the privilege of hearing Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. It is a pioneering Epistle. Saint Paul wrote it before any other New Testament letter or Gospel had been written. It is also a very relevant Epistle. Saint Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians is great advice for us. This week’s message is simple: work hard at whatever work God is asking you to do.

 

God was asking Saint Paul to teach the nations about Jesus Christ. Paul did exactly that and he did it with unswerving energy. He supported himself by making tents during the day and he answered God’s call by teaching about Jesus most evenings. This week’s reading, 1 Thessalonians 2: 7-9, 13, reminds us that Paul worked “night and day in order not to burden any of you” and that, with great “toil and drudgery” he “proclaimed . . . the gospel of God.” Paul is subtly criticizing the itinerant preachers of his day who preached little and relied heavily on others for material support. Paul wants the Christian preachers to work hard. His words and his example convey the same message.

 

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus takes aim at the Scribes and the Pharisees for, among other flaws, being so lazy. Jesus tells us to honor their words but not to imitate them. They “tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.” They lay on both spiritual burdens and temporal burdens and are too lazy to imitate Jesus or Paul or anyone else who answered others’ calls for help.

 

Elsewhere in his writings, especially in Romans and Corinthians, Paul encourages us to know what our gifts are and what they are not. He advises people to use the gifts God has given them and not to try to use gifts they have not received. Paul knows that no single person can solve all the world’s problems. We are to work hard only in those ways in which God is asking us to use our God-given gifts. And in those works, we are to work very hard. We are not to sit on the sidelines.

 

So what about you? In what situations have you gone from not helping to helping? In what settings have you gone from thinking “that is not my problem” to thinking “God wants me to help,” and then given yourself to it energetically? Perhaps your conversion had to do with the care of an ailing loved one. Maybe you went from thinking “not my job” to thinking “how can I help?” and then helped with the sort of dedication Paul showed the Thessalonians? Maybe it had to do with household chores or with a pressing community or global problem. Maybe it was a parish ministry or a neighborhood project. Clearly, God is not asking us to take on the world, but God is asking us to say “yes” and work as hard as we can when the divine voice says, “Help me with this one.”  

 

This Week in Community

  • A great and heartfelt welcome to our newest parishioners: Thomas and Maureen Buneo; Daniel Cunning; Darryl and Rikki Erickson and their six-year-old son; Paul and Kelly Greco and their two daughters, 6 and 2: William Herterich and the five Herterich children ranging in age from 8 to 17; Ryan and Shana McDonough and their three children, ranging in age from 6 to 11; and Dennis and Maureen Routledge. May God bless all of you abundantly in your lives at Saint Joe’s. And may you find the warmest of welcomes at Mass and everywhere else. Thank you for joining us.

  • Thanks in advance to the many who have worked very hard preparing our celebration for the Veterans. There will be more on that later, but for now, great thanks to all who have been hard at it all week.

  • We will have two Thanksgiving Masses and blessings of food. One on Wednesdayevening at 5:00 and another at the usual time, 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. 

  • Yes, it is already time to mark your calendars for our parish’s Advent and Christmas events. The family afternoon for making Advent Wreathes is Sunday, November 19 from 12:30 to 3:00 pm in the Parish Hall. Have you signed up yet? 

  • The annual Advent Pancake Breakfast is Sunday, December 3, Feast of St Francis Xavier! That is also the morning of the CYM Young Minister’s Mass.

  • God bless the Blue Storm’s approaching season! May our hundreds of young parish hoopsters find great exhilaration and blessing in the new basketball season. Great thanks to the coaches and all the program organizers. Without you the program would fizzle. 

  • The Raritan Valley Chorus will hold its Advent/Christmas/Winter concert here at St. Joe’s on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 pm.Tickets are free for parishioners who stop by the office to pick them up. Otherwise, admission is $10.

This Week in Service

  • Thanksgiving Food Collection: St. Joseph Youth Ministry is collecting food for Thanksgiving to feed those in the community. Please see the bulletin and pick up a leaflet in the gathering space for directions for food donations. All food donations need to be placed in the Memorial Hallway before Friday, November 17.
  • The Baby-Bottle Project is here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Many cheers for the many parishioners who are jumping in to host the Interfaith Hospitality Network’s upcoming session at the Dutch Reformed Church on the corner. Our shared effort with our neighbors is a great grace and it would not happen without YOU.

  • Thanks to all who prepared “Stars for our Troops,” especially John and Mary Kelly, Tom and Joanne Delasko, Tony D’Angelo and Mario Lugo. Veterans and families of deceased or active duty military are encouraged to take one of the stars after Mass this weekend. Each star is a small “thank you” from your grateful parish community. Happy Veterans Day!

  • Where would we be without the people who launder our altar linens. Did you ever wonder how the altar cloths and the purificators (used to wipe the chalices after you receive) are always so clean? We have several unsung heroes who pick up the liturgical laundry every week and keep us on track. THANKS! 

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones, especially your deceased loved ones as we pray our way through the month of November. 

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

Today, on the Feast of All Souls, we pray for your deceased loved ones with extra vigor:

 

Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord,

And may perpetual light shine upon them

May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed,

Through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

 

For what deceased loved ones do you want to pray that prayer with particular passion today?

 

All are encouraged to come to this evening’s 7:30Mass, at which we will read the names of all loved ones who have died since last All Souls’ Day. We will also read the names of the deceased children and grandchildren of all parishioners, regardless of when those children died.

Also, I apologize for a recent misstep and I thank the parishioner who pointed it out. To the 11/12 celebration of our veterans, I absolutely should have invited the spouses of deceased veterans. I apologize for not thinking of that and encourage all spouses of deceased veterans to join us. Please contact me directly to let me know if you can attend the 11:30Mass and the Veterans’ lunch on 11/12.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Last Sunday’s readings pointed us back to the question of the preceding week: “What does God seem to expect of our relationships with people of other faiths and with Catholics who have suspended their participation in the Eucharist?” 

 

Two weeks ago, the readings asked us to do two things: (a) connect with those others in ways that are charitable and that uphold our personal integrity, and (b) respect the ways in which God works through those others. Last week’s readings added a third reminder: protect them.

 

Sunday’s first reading, Exodus 22: 20-26, invites the children of Israel to remember their sorry lives in Egypt: “Thus says the LORD: ‘You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.’” God wants the Israelites to recall that misery, not so that they will want to get even or hurt others. God wants them to remember that sorrow so that they get motivated to make sure nobody else goes through it. They are to make the Promised Land a place that holds no trace of Egypt, no mistreatment of aliens. They are to welcome and protect those others. 

 

Jesus’ executive summary of the law and the prophets, Matthew 22:34-40, makes a similar point. Jesus tells his listeners and us to keep it simple: love God and love our neighbors. Luke’s version of the passage leads into the story of the Good Samaritan, a powerful reminder that the aliens in our midst – i.e., people who belong to minority religions and Catholics who do not receive the Eucharist – have much to teach us and deserve our welcome and our protection when the situation requires it.

 

What about you? Right here in Somerset County in 2017, as we welcome people of faiths not formerly represented here, as we continue to love Catholics who are not receiving the Eucharist, how have you been particularly welcoming or even protective? When have you stood up for those folks when idle chatter turned against them or when they were made to feel unwelcomed? And what about current opportunities to get it even more right? What person – at work, at school, at the gym or in the neighborhood – could use a little more welcome from you? A little more connection or respect? A little more evidence that active Catholics habitually welcome others? Where might God be nudging you to be even more of an “ambassador for Christ,” even more of an imitator of Christ?

  • It has been a pleasure to pray with you during this week’s many extra Masses. The turnout has been most excellent and the prayer a real consolation.

  • GREAT thanks to all who labored to organize the Trees of Remembrance in the Church. Superb.

  • We will be adding a special Thanksgiving Eve mass at 5 pm on Wednesday, November 22followed by a blessing of the food (and some light refreshments). In addition, Fr. Hank will bless the Thanksgiving food after the 8:35 ammass on Thanksgiving day.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

 

 

This Week in Community

  • Last weekend provided still more reminders that our parish is greatly blessed. Friday night’s dance for Becca’s Friends, complete with shocking Halloween edibles and music by our beloved DJ Count Graham, was another smash hit. At the same time, the Weekly AA meeting was in full swing down the Hall. On Saturday, several of our CCD teachersparticipated in a most excellent training session at the Chancery while a handful of volunteers, sort of a flashmob of landscapers, completely overhauled the Colonial Avenue approach to the Church. Then on Sunday, the Baby Bottle Collectionramped up in the morning and members of the youth group celebrated Halloween in utterly inspired costumes based on the theme “biblical twists.” The activity level was marvelous to behold.

  • The day for families to make Advent wreathsis almost here. Mark your calendars for Sunday, November 19 from 12:45 – 3:00 PM. Registration forms have gone out to all CCD families and are also available in the bulletin. 

This Week in Service

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Calling all scouts (Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of all ages), remember that the 9:30Mass this Sunday is your “Young Minister’s Mass,” -- the Mass at which you help with all liturgical ministries. Come one come all.

  • Where would we be without our ushers and money-counters? Both groups keep our communal train on the track in very important ways. Thanks to all who give their time to both ministries.

  • Thanksgiving Food Collection: St. Joseph Youth  Ministry will be collecting food for Thanksgiving to feed those in the community. Please see the bulletin and pick up a leaflet in the gathering space for directions for food donations.

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones, especially your deceased loved ones as we pray our way through All Souls’ Day. 

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 26, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Mission Sunday reminds us that we, as Roman Catholics, share the planet with people of many faiths. The church’s emphasis on ecumenism provides a similar reminder. In our lives with people of other faiths, God sometimes calls us to facilitate conversion. At other times, God calls us simply to dwell peacefully. Last Sunday’s readings remind us that God always invites us to connect with and to respect the others. The readings also clarify the meanings of “connect” and “respect.”

 

In Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 22: 15-21), Jesus provides a perfect example of how to connect with people of other faiths. His famous phrase, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God" is pure genius. That single expression tells us precisely how to connect with people of other faiths and how not to do so. 

 

First, it tells us not to adopt the Zealots’ approach. The Zealots would have forbidden any contact with the Romans, including the connection that comes with paying taxes. They shunned the Romans. Jesus’ suggestion to pay the Romans encourages connection and disavows the Zealots.

 

Second, Jesus’ advice also distinguishes him from the Herodians, a group of obsequious little toadies who did whatever the Romans asked. Herodians would betray their faith’s deepest beliefs in order to gain Roman approval. They would be whatever the Romans wanted them to be. Jesus’ advice to save something for God rejects the Herodian approach. Jesus disapproves of excessive compromise. 

 

Jesus plays it right down the middle. He does not shun people of other faiths and he does not become their lapdog. His way of connecting is a win both for charity and for personal integrity.

 

Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6) clarifies how we are to respect people of other faiths. Isaiah is reminding his audience that God makes powerful use of people of other faiths. God used King Cyrus of Persia, a Zoroastrian not a Jew, to liberate the children of Israel from their captivity in Babylon. God armed Cyrus though Cyrus “knew him not.” 

 

What about you? The readings for mission Sunday raise many questions but two can be helpful right here in Hillsborough. The readings invite us to wonder, “Right here in my neighborhood, or my school, or my workplace or my gym – where have I connected with people of other faiths and come to respect the ways God uses them?” Who are some of the people of other faiths with whom you have connected in Jesus-like ways and then come to respect the ways God has worked through them? And what about people who have stopped practicing their Catholicism? Have you listened to their stories while maintaining your own convictions AND observing the ways God has acted through them? And in what relationships might God be asking you to connect and respect a little more?

  • Please join us at the Mass of Remembranceon All Souls Day, Nov. 2nd at 7:30 pm. We will be reading the names of all loved ones who have died since last All Souls’ Day.

  • Wednesday, November 1 is All Saints Dayand a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses for the Holyday are at 7:30pm Tuesday (Vigil Mass) and then at 8:30 am. and 7:30 pm. on Wednesday.

  • Masses for the Feast of All Souls will be at 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 pm. on Thursday, November 2.  
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

 

This Week in Community

  • Friday’s turnout for MONSTERS INC was excellent. Special thanks to the teens who set up and cleaned up and double thanks to the folks who dazzled us with their movie-watching PJs. Great stuff.

  • Attention Veterans – you can still turn in an RSVP card to join us for the 11:30 Mass and lunch on November 12. We hope you and your spouse will be part of the celebration of our Veterans. 

  • Parents and spouses of currently active service members – we would be honored if you too could join us for the Mass and lunch on 11/12. Please fill out a card with your service-person’s info.

  • Stay tuned for updates about our ways of welcoming new parishioners. There will be plenty of chances for plenty of parishioners to be part of the welcome process. 

  • Weather permitting, there will be a fire drillbetween the masses (around 11 a.m.) on Sunday for the CCD program. If the predicted monsoons strike, we will re-schedule the fire drill. 

  • A week from Sunday (November 5) at the 9:30Mass, the Scouts will be serving in most ministries at the Young Ministers’ Mass. 

  • Our high school youth ministry Halloween Party is Sunday evening at 7pm. If you are in high school it’s a great way to learn about the youth group, have some fun, food, and experience a little foolishness.

This Week in Service

  • Our PUMPKIN PATCH KIDS (PPKs) did a great job in gathering and selling the pumpkins. Big thanks.

  • Congratulations to Mikey DeLucia and Keira McDevitt who will be honored by Bishop Checchio this Saturday at the cathedral. They are receiving the Diocese of Metuchen’s St. Timothy Award for their outstanding contributions to the church for their faith and service. 

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is almost here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Thanks and more thanks to all of our Eucharistic Ministers. Your willingness to share Christ’s Body and Blood enables us to be who we are. Endless thanks. 

  • Young adults (ages 18-25) looking to spend a week volunteering this summer? Download the Appalachian Institute service trip information packet. This trip could change your life! 

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones – and special blessings for all parishioners facing medical and other challenges these days.

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 19, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Our heavenly father is perfectly fair. The second part of Sunday’s gospel might seem to depict God as somewhat unfair, but a closer look helps to dispel that misperception.

 

The first part of Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 22: 1-10) describes a tragic situation. A king invites people to his son’s wedding but the invited guests kill the messengers. The king has an extreme reaction; he executes the murderers and destroys their city. The destruction is a little hard to reconcile with our belief in an all-loving God, but beneath the king’s rage lies an anger we might regard as “fair.” The king is entitled to be sad, angry and outraged.

 

The second part of Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 22: 11-14) is harder to absorb. The poor fellow described there gets the bum’s rush. And why did the king’s attendants tie him up and throw him out the door? Because he did not dress properly. The extreme reaction to a dress-code violation seems quite unfair – until the parable is considered more carefully.

 

The pieces of the parable are easily grasped: the king is God the Father, the Son is Jesus, the wedding feast is the early church, and the messengers are the later prophets including John the Baptist who invite people to follow Christ in the church. The wedding garment is a symbol of conversion. Like an adult’s white baptismal garment, it symbolizes conversion. It shows that the person has put off the old habits and put on the new. 

 

Thus, the person who shows up at the banquet without discarding the old garment is the one who comes into the church but has no intention of converting or repenting. The person who shows up without changing clothes is the person who says, “I am fine the way I am; I have no need to change.” Such a person would not be at home in the church, a community of imperfect humans who recognize their imperfections and continually strive for conversion and the symbolic putting on of new garments. Seen from that perspective, the dress code violation and the king’s reaction seem to be fair.

 

What about you? Chances are you accept as “fair” God’s invitation to ongoing conversion. Chances are you are wearing the proverbial wedding garment, you are dressed for conversion, you are willing to answer God’s invitation to greater holiness. What are some of your recent conversions? What have been some of the small steps – not dramatic overhauls, or radical alterations, just the simple next steps – that indicate your availability to ongoing conversion? How have you grown in prayer, in service, in the building up of the community? Which of your choices remind you that God is fair in asking for ongoing conversion and you are good at responding? And what about next steps? Where might you be feeling the nudge to take that next step in prayer, in service, in community? That next step that reflects God’s completely fair invitation to ongoing conversion.

 

This Week in Community

  • MONSTERS INC. – Do what you can to get you and your small ones to the hospitality room at 7:00 pm on Friday for the first children’s’ movie night of the season. The big screen is ready and the carpet is all scrubbed up! Feel free to come in your PJs and bring blankets. Unlike Sunday’s gospel, no dress code!

  • Thanks to those Veterans who have already submitted their cards for the 11:30 Mass on November 12, at which we will pray for and honor our veterans. We hope that most will be able to join us for lunch.

  • N.B. – Parents and spouses of currently active service members – we would be honored if you too could join us for the Mass and lunch on 11/12. Please fill out a card with your service-person’s info.

  • Those who participated in Sunday night’s Taizéprayer service know what a gift the evening was. Thanks to the diocesan festival choir and to all at St. Joe’s who supported the effort. Special thanks to our youth group for providing hot dogs and pizza between the 6 pm Mass and the prayer service.

  • BIG thanks to Natalie Zuccarello and the teen volunteers who restarted CHILDREN'S LITURGY OF THE WORD on Sunday. Your efforts are a great gift to the entire community. 

  • High Schoolers - are you ready for Scare Farm? See you Saturday at 6pm. Don’t forget your permission slip!

  • Seventh graders - great work at the Young Ministers’ Mass this Sunday! You were an inspiration to the community.

  • Stay tuned for updates about our ways of welcoming new parishioners. There will be plenty of chances for plenty of parishioners to be part of the welcome process. 

This Week in Service

  • Our PUMPKIN PATCH KIDS (PPKs) will be selling pumpkins after the 9:30 and 11:30Masses this Sunday. Proceeds will help combat hunger in our very own part of the world. Superb work PPKs!

  • Great thanks to all the St. Joe’s folk who participated in our effort to co-sponsor last week’s shelter at the Dutch Reformed Church. Your effort to support the Interfaith Hospitality Network is exemplary.

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is almost here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Great thanks to Susan Wund, Peter Tabernero and our entire squad of sacristans. Your efforts draw so little attention and provide such a terrific service. Think of how befuddled we would be without you.  

Today’s feast is quite a special one. St. Isaac and his companions demonstrated extraordinary devotion to their communities. They lived and moved in our part of the world and have so much to teach us – especially those parishioners who are facing significant challenges. For every parishioner, for the upcoming week and always, may God continue to multiply your joys and divide your sorrows.

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Christ’s Peace!

 

This Week in Prayer

This month’s gospels continue to convey truths about the Father, truths that Jesus is eager to share. This Sunday the message was about the Father’s eternal benevolence. Our father in heaven always provides what we need in order to choose peace and to glorify God.

 

The first reading (Isaiah 5: 1-7) and the gospel (Matthew 21: 33-43) describe a 5-star vineyard. It includes well treated soil, a protective hedge, a time-saving and money-saving wine press, and a deluxe tower that can be used for resting, surveying and several other purposes. The vineyard described provides everything for which its tenants could hope. God provided everything ancient Israel needed to achieve the end for which it was created and led to the Promised Land.

 

Our father’s benevolence did not end with ancient Israel. As much as ever, God provides all we need to make the choices that lead to our peace and God’s glory. We cannot always choose comfort. Neither can we always choose pleasure or enviable circumstances. But we can always make the choices that lead us to peace and that glorify God. Just as our benevolent Father provided everything the proverbial ancient farmers needed to achieve their proverbial goal (an abundant crop of good grapes), our benevolent Father provides all we need to achieve our goal (our peace and God’s glory).

 

Sunday’s second reading, from Philippians 4, reminds us to keep an eye on those provisions. Saint Paul encourages us to notice all that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and gracious. That is, Saint Paul wants us to contemplate and cultivate all those things that can lead us to peace and can glorify God. True peace is always an option. Remembering that, we continue to look for true peace and for God’s glory.

 

What about you? Has there been a moment when you thought peace was no longer available to you? Was there a moment when you forgot that God loves you entirely too much to close the path to peace? What helped you remember that peace was always a reachable goal, even if it meant pursuing a very difficult path? What helped you renew the quest for your peace and God’s glory? And who in your life might be wondering if she or he will ever truly feel God’s peace again? Who needs a reminder that our benevolent Father always gives us what it takes to achieve our goal, our peace and God’s glory? Even in the rough patches, those goals are attainable.

This Week in Community

  • Thanks to Kevin Buist for spending his Columbus Day holiday repairing and improving our parish internet – enabling us to provide more services to more people.   

  • Thanks to those veterans who have already submitted their cards for the 11:30 Mass on November 12, at which we will pray for and honor our veterans. We hope that most of the veterans will be able to join us for lunch.

  • Kudos to the dozens of well-behaved animals who posted for the blessing on Saturdaymorning. The morning went off without a hitch, and with many greatly blessed pets and pet-owners!

  • The Taize (pr: tezz-ZAY) concert will be Sunday at 7:30. If you have never heard Taize chant, you owe it to yourself to be there. If you have heard Taize chant, you already know you want to be there. The youth group will be selling hot dogs and pizza for any folks coming from the 6PM mass (or early to the concert).

  • MONSTERS INC will be coming to Saint Joe’s on Friday, October 20 at 7:00 PM. This Movie Night will launch the year-long series for kids (come in your PJs and bring a blanket) and will be the maiden voyage for the new TV in the newly refurbished Hospitality Room.

  • CHILDREN'S LITURGY OF THE WORD starts back up this Sunday at the 9:30 Mass. GREAT thanks to Natalie Zuccarello and to her talented and oh-so generous High School Helpers. 

  • Stay tuned for updates about our ways of welcoming new parishioners. There will be plenty of chances for plenty of parishioners to be part of the welcome process. 

This Week in Service

  • The second collection and poor boxes have so far gathered $8,900 to help the victims of the recent natural disasters. The poor boxes will continue to be dedicated to this project for a few more weeks.

  • Extra blessings for our Lazarus Ministry and our Ushers who have recently worked overtime on several occasions. Both groups provide invaluable service to the parish.

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is almost here. The proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they undertake the adventure of motherhood. It enables young woman to make truly inspired choices. Be as generous as you can. And thanks to the Knights and the Respect Life crews for making it happen. 

  • Attention young adults (18-25)! This summer we will be running our first young adult service trip to Appalachia. If you are interested in more information please contact Bob Ferretti or download the application form from our website.

With extra special prayers for our college students who are reading this at a distance – as you gear up for midterms. Know that your home town crowd is cheering for you! And big blessings for all who face challenges this week and for all who are celebrating great achievements.

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

In this current stretch of gospels, Jesus tells us something he wants us to know about Our Father. He does that in the gospels of last Sunday, this coming Sunday and the one after that. Last Sunday he told us about how forgiving Our Father is. 

 

Sunday’s first reading made the same point; Jesus’ father, who is our father, forgives lavishly. Ezekiel 18 reveals two shocking truths about the father’s mercy. First, the father does not punish children for their ancestors’ sins. Neither does he punish the parents for their children’s sins. This was an earth-shattering revelation for Ezekiel’s audience. Second, if a sinner puts down the sinful habit and takes up a better way, God the Father will not rub the former sinner’s nose in the old dirt. Sunday’s first reading assures us that if the sinner “turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” As the saying goes, “Every sinner has a future.” God calls each of us to a future of true peace, even after we have done something awful.

 

God’s happiness about our conversions also shines through Sunday’s gospel. The good son in the story is the one who sinned and then repented, the one who said “no” with his words and then “yes” with his actions. The father in the story evidently has no intention of punishing the boy for his earlier transgressions. All the father seeks is the sinner’s true conversion. Jesus suggests that even tax collectors and prostitutes – viewed as the lowest of the low by his peers – need only put down the old sin and lay hold of the peaceful future God the father has prepared. Every sinner has a future.

 

So what about you? When have you teetered on the brink of despair? When have you thought “it’s all over” because of some blunder great or small? What helped you reclaim the path to peace? What helped you remember that it was not “too late,” that true peace was still possible? And maybe, is there someone in your life who is dwelling right at the edge of despair? Someone who thinks they have committed an unforgivable sin? Who might need to be reminded, with great sensitivity and deference, that Jesus’s father, our father, is a trillion times more forgiving than the most forgiving person who ever lived (except Jesus of course!). Where might you be called to spread that good news: Every sinner has a future?

  • All best blessings for the dozens of women who, on Monday night, started the new year of “Walking with Purpose.” Special blessings for those who are both new to the program and new to the parish. May your adventure be greatly inspired. And special thanks to Mary MacPhee and all program leaders.

  • Hats off to the several parishioners who joined the “Life Chain” on Sunday in Somerset to, among other things, pray for a more pervasive respect for every human life.

  • Thanks to Fr. Greg Uhrig for Wednesday’stalk about St. Francis. In typical Fr. Greg form, it was fun, informative, and challenging. How do we “rebuild the church” as “imitators of Christ?”

  • The Remembrance Trees return on November 1. Help us remember your deceased loved ones. If you turned in their names last year, you are set. If not, put their names in the communications box ASAP.

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

This Week in Community

  • Attention Gluten-intolerant parishioners – Eucharist for the gluten intolerant will start this weekend. Check with Fr. Hank or the ushers to learn more. (Also, please see the handouts on the Moses Table.)  

  • The new and improved parish calendar is up and running on the parish web page. Good for us! PLEASE NOTE – over the next few weeks we will try to put EVERYTHING on the calendar. If you expect to be in church other than at Mass time, make sure your event is listed on the calendar. Otherwise, the space you expect to use might be given away. The surge in parish activities is a huge blessing – and requires good coordination. Thanks for helping. We will soon have a parish email address for you to use to submit your entry for the calendar. 

  • Remember Veterans – Mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor you. Check out the Moses table for the cards we want you to fill out and return before November 5. (It will take you about 90 seconds to complete the cards.)

  • Great blessings for Fr. Greg and for all who facilitated the festivities on ST FRANCIS DAY. It was a great day to participate in Mass, learn about St. Francis, join the prayer for the rededication of the St. Francis garden and room, and enjoy the remarkably great food. 

  • Special thanks to the Knights for the new TV in the Hospitality Room, to Al Garlatti for the renovations, and to the Bogado family for enabling the painting to happen so very well. Big thanks too to all who worked in the garden, especially in the hot months, to dig out the old soil, put in the new, and get the planting going: Walt Rusak, Elizabeth and Roger Prince, the Girl Scouts, Michelle Tuck, John Tamburini, Ken Wetzel, Mark Dorrler, Vin and Suzanne Kral, JoAnne Delasko (who always seemed scheduled to work on the hottest days), and Rich Pennachio. Extra special thanks to Ken and Donna Scherer and Hillsborough Irrigation for providing extra labor at the clutch moments and for installing the sod and irrigation system, but only charging us for the downspouts! Thanks to Jane Lappin of Wainscott Farm for donating the truckload of plants that launched the whole project.

  • The blessing of the animals will take place on Saturday morning, 10/7 – right after the 8:30 Mass. Bring your pet, whatever it is. Just make sure that if it can move it is on a FIXED-LENGTH LEASH!

  • The diocesan festival choir will provide us with a Taize concert on Sunday, October 15 at 7:30 pm. If you have never heard a Taize chant concert, seize the opportunity. If you have heard one, you know you don’t want to miss this. The music reflects themes found in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si' (On Care For Our Common Home). I will be giving a brief reflection on the encyclical. 

This Week in Service

  • The poor boxes will continue to collect money for disaster relief. The situations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands call for even more help. Thanks for your continued generosity. 

  • Thanks to the parishioners who have generously agreed to join the two new committees of the Parish Council: the Social Ministries Advisory Committee and the Mission and Planning Committee. Both groups are off to rollicking great starts and both are situated to make great contributions to our parish life.

With prayers for the many parishioners who, this month, are bravely facing difficult medical situations. You are an inspiration to us all. And with hope that these spectacular days are days of great grace for every last parishioner. 

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer 

 

This weekend, for the fourth and final time this fall, the readings prompt reflections on what it takes to love the tough customers, those whom we aren’t inclined to love spontaneously. Jesus asks us to love them too, even if they are the envious sorts described in last weekend’s readings.

 

The passage from Isaiah 55 refers to “the wicked.” Several Old Testament readings in recent weeks have contained a similar reference. Once again, the group referred to as “the wicked” includes those who worship false Gods. And why do the children of Israel fall so frequently into idolatry? Envy of the apparent benefits of such worship often drives the misstep. People envy the perceived goods that the non-existent gods seem to dole out. A craving for those goods then stirs them to put down worship of Yahweh and take up the worship of Baal or other non-existent sugar-gods. Time-and-again the prophets warn against false worship, frequently taking a page from Moses’ playbook, imploring the people to recall the astonishing things God has done for them – starting with the liberation from Egypt. A healthy recalling of God’s great gifts tempers the urge to envy and imitate the misguided. A deeper sense of gratitude has a way of dispelling envy and the calamities it produces.

 

Sunday’s gospel passage from Matthew 20 underscores envy’s dangers and gratitude’s benefits. Instinct tells us to side with the first-in workers who labored all day and receive the same pay as the last-in workers. The compensation schedule makes little sense. The first-ins’ envy and resentment of the last-ins’ makes good sense. The underlying comparison is, however, a little more appealing. Some members of the early church apparently believed that first-ins should receive greater benefits on earth and in heaven. The logic suggested that Peter, James, Andrew, and John – the first disciples – were entitled to more than the apostles who landed later. More importantly, the mindset suggested that the children of Israel, the first believers, were entitled to more than those who came to the faith later. The whole tussle results from the envy of the first-ins. Jesus upbraids the envious and reminds them that they are getting everything he promised and for that they should be grateful, not envious.

 

What about you? When has envy trapped you? Can you think of a time that the desires for another’s gifts – especially their relational gifts – drove you to envy? Noble aspirations are great. So are lofty ambitions. But envy is destructive – of the envier and of the community. When have you fallen for it and do you see gratitude as part of the force that rescued you?

And how about a person or two in your life, members of the glass-half-empty crowd, who are chronically dissatisfied with their lot and envious of others. They are tough customers. They are hard to love. But love them we must. One of the best expressions of love is to help them be more grateful, to affirm what is good in their lives and to encourage them to do the same, pastorally and subtly. Leading by a sincere, grateful example can work wonders. Who needs your help to escape envy?

This Week in Community:

  • Great big thanks to all members of the PatriotStadium Concession ministry. They have had a remarkable year and have made a giant contribution to our mortgage payments. God bless them all!

  • Watch your step! The center railings in front of church are still out for repair. We’d hoped to get them back this week but . . . As long as they are here before the snow falls.

  • Attention Gluten-intolerant parishioners – Eucharist for the gluten intolerant will start the weekend of October 7. Please see the handouts on the Moses Table.  

  • Check out the new and improved parish calendar on our home page. Its creators are certainly correct in crowing about its virtues. PLEASE NOTE – over the next few weeks we will be putting EVERYTYHING on the calendar. If you plan to be in the church at a time other than Mass, please make sure that your group has reserved a space so we don’t give it away. We will soon have a parish email address for you to use to submit your entry for the calendar. 

  • Remember Veterans – Mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor you. Keep on the lookout for more information in October. And start digging up (a) the best picture of you during your military days and (b) the best picture of you in recent days

  • ST FRANCIS DAY – Fr Greg Uhrig will preside at the 8:35 Mass on Wednesday, October 4, the Feast of Saint Francis. After Mass Fr. Greg will offer a most enjoyable 20-minute reflection on St. Francis’ experience of “REBUILD MY CHURCH.” We will then move to the hospitality room for its rededication. Following all that comes the usual round of “First Wednesday” great food and honoring of birthday folk. Even if you have never been to the 8:35 weekday Mass, join us on 10/4! 10-4?

  • The blessing of the animals will take place on Saturday morning, 10/7 – right after the 8:30 Mass. Bring your pet, whatever it is. Just make sure that if it can move it is on a FIXED-LENGTH LEASH!

  • The diocesan festival choir will provide us with a Taize concert on Sunday, October 15 at 7:30 pm. If you have never heard a Taize chant concert, seize the opportunity. If you have heard one, you know you don’t want to miss this. The music reflects themes found in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si' (On Care of Our Common Home). I will be giving a brief reflection on the encyclical. 

  • High school youth group will meet this Sunday night at 7pm. It’s a night of welcome - both old and new members. If you are in high school we hope to see you there. 

  • We could still use two used lap-top computers to connect to the video screens – one for the gathering space and one for the Hospitality. If you can help, contact Bob Ferretti.

This Week in Service:

  • Thanks to the many parishioners who completed Virtus training on Monday. You make a difference! 

  • The poor boxes will continue to collect money for disaster relief. The situation in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands calls for even more help. Thanks to your great generosity, we have already collected $6,000. 

Saturday is probably your last chance to swim outdoors. I can’t, in good faith, encourage you to take the plunge in October. What a difference a day makes. Enjoy the end of summer and all the blessings that autumn promises. And bravo for all the young people who are jazzed up about answering the toll-booth question “what was your best class this week and why?” Many of the answers have been superb. Thanks.

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 14, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

Happy Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Today we celebrate the truth that Jesus transformed an instrument of humiliation into the locus of our salvation. The feast reminds us that every time we “take up the cross” in accord with Christ’s hopes, we are imitating him and stepping toward his glory.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Sunday’s readings, like last week’s, remind us how hard it can be to love the tough customers. Jesus asks us to love even those who make it hard to do so. The obstinately self-destructive ones present a particularly thorny challenge. What are we to do when people we love insist on pursuing ruinous choices? Sunday’spassages remind us of the answer: We always love them and hope and pray for what is best for them EVEN AFTER we must admit that we are powerless to change their choices.

 

Sunday’s first reading comes from Ezekiel 33. It is part of the fourth of the book’s five sections. In it, God reminds Ezekiel to do everything he can to turn the people away from their wickedness – i.e., from their inclination to worship false gods. Ezekiel will be in big trouble if he fails to admonish the people. But God tells Ezekiel that the people might not listen. The prophet’s best efforts might not turn the people from idolatry. That is not Ezekiel’s issue: “If you warn the wicked . . . and he refuses to turn . . . you shall save yourself.” Do your best Ezekiel and admit it when you cannot change them.

 

Sunday’s gospel comes from Matthew’s 18th chapter. Some refer to that chapter as “the book of church order” because, in it, Matthew proposes solutions to problems that disrupted the early church. One such problem was the tendency of church members to cling to rotten habits. According to Matthew, Jesus provides very specific instructions about redirecting offenders. Start with a one-to-one conversation. If that doesn’t work, bring in a few pals and, if that flops, engage the whole church. After you have tried all these things, if the person still will not hang up his proverbial cleats, pray for the person (see the second paragraph of Sunday’s gospel) and admit you yourself cannot change him. The message is a little like “Shake the dust from your feet” and “Know when to fold ‘em.”

 

The obstinate pursuit of self-destructive habits takes many forms. Sometimes it involves substance abuse. It can also involve terrible forms of recreation, financial irresponsibility, running with wild crowds, and choices that worsen rather than improve physical, mental and spiritual health.

 

Chances are you know someone who is stuck in lousy choices and needs rescuing. Chances are even better that you know someone who is trying to rescue a loved one from self-destructive choices. Focus on the latter, the would-be rescuer. Might it be appropriate to affirm the rescuer’s inclination to admit his or her inability to persuade the offender to make better choices? Might it be very charitable for you to remind the would-be rescuer that Ezekiel and even Jesus faced moments when they could not prevail on obstinate self-destructors to change direction? Of course, we are called to keep loving the self-destructors. That does not mean God expects us to rescue them. They must choose peace.

This Week in Community

  • Last weekend was one for the record book. Boundless thanks to all who made it happen. Thanks to all who labored mightily to make the installation Mass as beautiful as it was. Thanks too to all who joined the celebration and to all who shared such kind thoughts. 

  • The Parish Picnic was, by all accounts, a record-breaker in terms of attendance. Once again, enormous thanks to all who put it together. Thanks first and foremost to the Knights of Columbus who demonstrated once again their unparalleled ability to throw a party/ food-fest. You guys are priceless. Thanks to the staff and all the volunteers who helped the Knights set up and then take down the party. Thanks to Mike DeLucia (the younger) for the music and to the Youth Group for the face-painting and the ice-cream. A special shout-out to the new parishioners who displayed their gold badges and thanks to Gail Bellas and Anna Maria Realbuto and co for welcoming the new folk. Thanks to Bob Ward for the magic show and thanks to all who finished behind me in the croquet tourney! Most of all, thanks to God for giving us our community and that spectacular weather.

  • Speaking of new parishioners - great thanks to Johanne Mueller, Linda Kenyhercz and Gail Bellas for their superb efforts, over many years, to welcome new parishioners. As of next month, we will alter the “on-boarding” process in three ways. First, new parishioner welcome and registration packets will be available at all times in the gathering space. Second, new parishioners will be strongly encouraged but not required to participate in a New Parishioner Information session BEFORE they register. Third, we will be recruiting parishioners of longer-standing to serve as “welcomers” to the new folk. Stay tuned for details on these changes. Again, welcome to all new parishioners and thanks to Gail, Linda, and Johanne for the fine work.

  • God bless all the CCD teachers who start their missions on Tuesday. May your experience be terrifically rewarding and great fun. And God bless the CCD students. May it be a fine year of becoming even more of the priests, the prophets and the kings God calls you to be.

  • Remember Veterans – Mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor you. Keep on the lookout for more information in October. 

  • Work on the Hospitality Room and St. Francis garden are on track for the St. Francis day celebration. If you are a gardener and are dividing plants, the garden could use sedum (all strains), Montauk daisies, and any other low-maintenance plants that reach their peaks around St. Francis day (10/4).

  • Attention all parishioners, but especially who love Francis of Assisi – please join the 8:35Mass group for the October 4 Mass and rededication of the Hospitality Room and St Francis garden

  • Calling all St Francis fans and all Music lovers – Come to church on Sunday, October 15 at 7:30 pm to hear the diocesan festival choir’s Taize concert. Not familiar with Taize? It’s a wonderful back-and-forth chant way of praying and singing. The music reflects themes found in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si' (On Care of Our Common Home). I will be giving a brief reflection on the encyclical. And the really great news – the youth group will be selling hot dogs in the parish hall before the concert. This is especially great news for those who attend the 6:00 pm Mass and want to go to the concert.

This Week in Service

  • Greatest thanks to all who made the Caregivers’ morning of reflection so helpful to so many caregivers. The committee covered every detail and supplied some great insight for parish and area caregivers.

  • Virtus training – will be available on Monday, September 25, at 6:30 pm in the Parish Hall. Sign up here if you are already committed to a ministry that requires Virtus OR if you might be willing to join our “Virtus bullpen” – i.e., folks we can call when we need a Virtus-trained person in the room. Sign-up now!

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) – If you are involved or thinking of becoming involved, please join us for 8:35 Mass and the information session that follows on Saturday, September 23. The session will include light refreshments and an overview of IHN. RSVP to Sue Calamoneri (matlison@yahoo.com) .

  • We will continue to do what we can to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The poor boxes this week and next will go to Catholic Charities in the appropriate areas. This weekend’s special collection will also go to those branches of Catholic Charities.

Once again, heartfelt thanks to all who made last weekend a terrific one. And continued blessings for all the back-to-school folks. The questions for students will continue in front of the church for several weeks. I am most eager to learn more about the aspects of school that are getting you most amped up this season!

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s peace! 

 

Before we consider the great graces around us – even as you are reading this – maybe say a prayer for Harvey’s victims and another for Irma’s. In addition to praying for those victims, we will provide material aid. From now until mid-October, all donations to the poor-boxes will go to Catholic Charities in the devastated areas. There will also be a second collection the weekend of September 16/17, the proceeds from which will also go to the appropriate offices of Catholic Charities. Finally, several parishioners are exploring additional ways for us to provide material assistance.

Our concern for those suffering from the storms coincides with a period of great graces for us. 

  • Friday, September 8 is the Blessed Mother’s birthday. Remember to send her a good message;

  • Saturday, September 9 (Feast of St. Peter Claver, SJ) at the 4:45 Mass, Bishop Checchio will install me as St. Joe’s 25th pastor. Join the prayer if you can and greet the bishop afterwards in the Gathering Space. (N.B., installed as 25th pastor in the summer I celebrated my 25th year of priesthood . . . try 0 2 5 in the lottery?);

  • Sunday, September 10 is the parish picnic – and the current forecast is for 75 degrees and sunshine. Bring towels for the kids on the waterslide. You might also want to ponder where you want to be at 2 pm, given the competing options: 

    • Bob Ward, our official parish magician, will start the magic show at 2; 

    • the 4th annual croquet tournament (to which I will bring my new, customized mallet) also starts at 2 and I am feeling mighty lucky; 

    • the volleyball round robin also begins at 2.

      And if you would prefer just to sit back and enjoy the company, the food (Go Knights!), the music (Go Mikey D!), that also presents an inspired option. Also – consider the picnic challenge: get to know the names and a little bit about three people. Name tags are encouraged for all. New parishioners will be wearing specially designed name tags.
      If you want to share a special salad or dessert with the parish, please feel free to bring one for the ‘potluck’ portion of the picnic. Disposable bowls/trays and utensils are greatly appreciated. Finally, the most important thing about this Sunday: Be there!
       

  • Monday is September 11. Join us if you can for the 8:35 AM Mass to pray for world peace.

This Week in Prayer

 

Loving the tough customers is a tall order. Would that tough customers didn’t enter our lives but they do and the call to love them is, as the poem says, “a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.” Every Sundayin September, the readings invite us to focus on a different group of tough customers. And by “love” let’s agree to mean “act benevolently toward.”

 

That is, let’s hear the call to love as a call to want what God wants for the troublesome other.

 

Last Sunday focused us on those who repay nastiness for kindness. “Hostile” might be one way to describe them. “Malevolent” might be another. But let’s stick with “hostile.” And let’s recall that we are called to be benevolent toward them too. Just like Jeremiah was. Just like Jesus was.

 

Sunday’s first reading recounts Jeremiah’s most bitter lament: “Lord, you duped me and I let myself be duped.” He had had it. More than enough. Over the top. He was doing exactly what God wanted him to do for the people, exactly what was best for the people. And how did they reply? With “. . . mocking . . . derision . . . and reproach.” But as disgusted as he was, as tempted as he was to ditch the whole project, Jeremiah stayed the course of benevolence. He continued to do what was best for them. His benevolence was anything but spontaneous. It was quite deliberate, quite willed.

 

Jesus gives us the perfect example of deliberate benevolence (i.e., acting benevolently toward others when they treat us shabbily and benevolence does not automatically arise). Sunday’s gospel contains Matthew’s first passion prediction “(I) must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed.” Jesus had a pretty solid hunch that hostility would pour down on him, yet he stayed the course of benevolence, the course of doing what is best for all. That course reached its summit on Calvary when he prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Talk about “deliberate benevolence.” 

 

We can never encourage sinful behavior. Neither can we volunteer to be a punching bag or a doormat. But Jesus is always asking us to maintain clarity of heart, to remember that what I want for this troublesome other is what God wants for this troublesome other, what is best for this troublesome other, perhaps the conversion of this troublesome other.

 

Where are you getting that just right? Where are you hoping for the best and doing what is best for a hostile someone who does not treat you too well? Is it a family member? A colleague? Someone in the neighborhood? An in-law or an out-law or maybe a former relation? The grace of deliberate benevolence – the ability to will ourselves to want what is best and do what is best for a hostile other – is a great grace. God gives us that grace and invites us to use that grace and, no doubt, you are using it well. Where are you using it well and where might you use it even more effectively?

This Week in Service:

  • Need Virtus certification? Complete the process on Monday, September 25, at 6:30 pmin the Parish Hall. Sign up here if you need it. And please think of getting certified even if you don’t have a current commitment that requires it. We would be in a very good place if we had a bullpen of Virtus folk.

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) – If you are involved or thinking of becoming involved, please join us for 8:35 Mass and the information session that follows on Saturday, September 23. The session will include light refreshments and an overview of IHN. RSVP to Sue Calamoneri (matlison@yahoo.com) .

  • CAREGIVERS! This Saturday is our morning of recollection. Come to Mass at 8:30 and the morning or recollection that follows. This retreat is for professional and lay caregivers (mostly the latter).

  • GREAT thanks to all who regularly and generously contribute to the parish FOOD PANTRY. Your donations enable us to provide priceless assistance to local food banks. The parish has also responded brilliantly to the recent request for soap, detergent and personal products.

This week in Community:

  • Truly terrific CCD news – truly. For the first time in several years, we filled all teacher slots BEFORE Labor Day Tuesday. This represents a very impressive improvement. Great thanks to all who answered the call. May God bless you abundantly in your ministry and may you have a rollicking good time. Thanks too to our Religious Ed Committee and of course to our staff. This is a giant achievement.

  • Attention all CCD Teachers – Remember the big kick-off meeting is this Monday at 7:00 pm. This is a great chance to connect with the other teachers, learn about our brand-spanking new curriculum, and help pump each other up for this most worthy of undertakings.

  • Attention Veterans – Please mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday, November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor and thank you. We will soon be requesting photos.

  • Work on the Hospitality Room and St. Francis garden are moving into the home stretch and should be in good shape for the rededication of both areas on the Feast of St. Francis, October 4. 

  • Becca’s Friends Ministry ART SHOW. Check out the bulletin board in the gathering space hallway. All of the art work by the Becca’s Friends Artists. Colorful, happy and a great job!!

Students beware! It's that time of year. On your way into church, I will be asking you about your most favorite aspect of the new school year. Can’t wait for your replies. (Remember some answers are out of bounds. “Nothing” is totally not ok. ”Gym,” “lunch” and “recess” are only a little better!)

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All:
 

May the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts and in the hearts of all whom you love.
 

This Week in Prayer
 

Jesus Christ wants us to relax. He also wants us to help others to relax. Of course “we have miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep” and the tasks that await us are, for the most part, inspired. But God wants us, from time to time, to put down the proverbial hoe and put up our actual feet. God also wants us to help our loved ones take some Sabbath rest, regardless of the day.

 

Sunday’s first reading, from 1 Kings 19, describes the magnificent moment when Elijah, in the cave on Mount Horeb, recognized God’s voice in the tiny whispering sound. Elijah reached that cave precisely because God wanted him to get some time away. Poor Elijah, as recounted in 1 Kings 18, had had a miserable go of it with Baal’s prophets. The exasperating exchange made Elijah head into the wilderness for safety and serenity. An angel of the Lord met Elijah in the wilds and supplied him with food and water for the 40-day walk to Mount Horeb. Clearly, God was all in favor of Elijah getting away from it all.

 

Sunday’s Gospel, from Matthew 14, also connects to a story of God-given rest. The passage’s opening line speaks volumes: “After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.” The disciples had just helped Jesus to feed more than 5000 people. Imagine the effort; each apostle fed several hundred people and then cleaned up. Of course they were exhausted and naturally, Jesus wanted them to go away. They were en route to a potentially restful spot when the storm kicked up and Peter leapt overboard. Jesus had encouraged them to get away from it all.

What about us? For whom are we playing the role of (a) the Angel of the Lord in 1 Kings and (b) Jesus in Matthew 14? Whom are we encouraging to take some time off, to snatch some Sabbath rest even on days that aren’t the Sabbath? It's not about giving speeches or admonishing people to elevate their feet. It is about enabling them to do so. Our youngsters do that when they get ahead on their house chores. Grandparents do that when they volunteer to babysit for the young parents who need a date-night. Spouses do that for each other when one arranges coverage for the other who usually does the elder care. Colleagues do that when they say, through their actions, “I have it from here.” The act of enabling others to relax a little is not just a courtesy. It is a Christian gift. It is a way of imitating Christ. Where are you getting it very right?

  • Mass attendance on Tuesday, the Feast of the Assumption, was terrific. What an uplifting experience to pray with so many, especially at the morning Mass. I hope you all had a chance to honor the holyday in whatever playful summer way aligns with your cultural background.

  • Thanks to all the men who made Monday’sCornerstone session such a grace-filled one. We are a work in progress – with so much for which we can be grateful.

  • Attention graduates – More than half of you have already picked up your bibles in the gathering space. A gentle reminder to others whose bibles still await – to take the word with you as you head into your next adventure – which we trust will be greatly blessed.
     

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

This Week in Service:

  • Feeling the inkling to feed the hungry? Check out the bulletin for more details about how to participate in our parish’s renewed effort to serve at Elijah’s Promise one Sunday each month. You can click this link to sign-up to help.

  • Thanks to all the parishioners who continue to keep the parish in tip top shape during the summer – especially those who weed and water the outdoor plantings.

  • Hello, Caregivers. Remember the morning of recollection – prepared just for you and your serenity – is September 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. The program starts with Mass and continues with talks and talk.

This Week in Community:

  • Remember to mark your calendars for the Parish Picnic on Sunday, September 10.

  • Thanks to the dozens of CCD teachers who posted for the information sessions with the publishers on Monday night and Tuesdaymorning.

  • We still need a few new CCD teachers and aids to cover this year’s classes.  Once teachers are placed, aides and other volunteers will be assigned.  Please contact Jim Jungels at x 224 for more information.  

  • This just in – as of now, it seems that Bishop Checchio will be here to celebrate the 4:45Mass on Saturday, September 9. That will be the Mass at which he officially installs me as your pastor. Since we had such a big wing-ding in June, and since the parish picnic is the next day, the festivities on that Saturday evening will be very low key. Plan to stick around for a few minutes after Mass to greet the bishop – who is always eager to meet you – and to enjoy a few munchies. 

  • And special thanks to our Youth Minister, Bob Ferretti, who is in Australia visiting distant relatives for the week. Even while he is down under, Bob is getting this “This Week” to you.

Remember – if you can take some down time before school starts, you really ought to take it. Meanwhile, all best blessings for every parishioner.

 

Fr. Hank 

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

Dear All: 

 

Happy Feast of St. Lawrence. And as today’s first reading reminds us, “God loves a cheerful giver.” May your heart continue to know the great peace that cheerful giving supplies. 

 

This Week in Prayer

  • Tuesday is the Feast of the Assumption. Holyday Masses are: Monday evening at 7:30(Vigil Mass), Tuesday morning at 8:30 am and Tuesday Evening at 7:30 pm. (Remember – If you have roots in Spring Lake, Allenhurst or Monmouth Beach you have a cultural obligation to jump in the ocean three times.)

  • Thanks to Sister Victoria of the Daughters of Divine Love. Sister’s energy and passion for her mission are indeed contagious. Thanks to all who listened so attentively to her talks at each Mass this weekend (in place of the homily). Thanks too to all who supported her so generously.

  • Attention Men of Cornerstone. This month’s session has a special meeting time. Because of the Feast of the Assumption and Mondaynight’s vigil Mass, our conversation will start right after the 7:30 pm Mass. If the preacher doesn’t prattle on too long, that means we will start at about 8:15. We focus this month on Jeremiah and his efforts to console the bereft (Jer 29: 1—14). 

  • Attention graduates – Many of you will soon be heading off into your new adventures. Hence, the promised bibles are available this weekend in the gathering space. Look on the Moses table for the bible with your name in it – and remember to read it frequently as you take this next turn in your faith journey. May the new chapter be greatly blessed. Know that we pray for you and – whether your adventure takes you to foreign countries or to other parts of central Jersey – we look forward to seeing you at St. Joe’s. I will be most eager to get the updates on your new pursuits.

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This Week in Service:

  • Feeling the inkling to feed the hungry? Check out the bulletin or click this link for more details about how to participate in our parish’s renewed effort to serve at Elijah’s Promiseone Sunday each month.

  • Thanks to all the parish farmers who continue to work wonders in the parish vegetable/pumpkin farm down by the solar panels. Notice the produce on the tables in the gathering space. All donations will go to feed area people who go about hungry. Just put your donation into the “Social Concerns” poor boxes near the doors of the church.

  • Hello Caregivers. Remember the morning of recollection – prepared just for you and your serenity – is September 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. The program starts with Mass and continues with talks and talk.

This Week in Community:

  • Attention CCD teachers – Come to one of the Teacher Workshops. Join us either (a) Monday August 14 at 7 pm or (b) Tuesday August 15 at 9:30 am.  You will have a chance to meet the publishers of our new books, ask questions, get answers, and meet other teachers.  All are invited! RSVP to Mr. Jungels.

  • We still a few new CCD teachers and aids to cover this year’s classes.  Once teachers are placed, aides and other volunteers will be assigned.  Please contact Jim Jungels at x 224 for more information.  

May God bless every parishioner in summer’s home stretch.
 

Fr. Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 4, 2017

Dear All: 

 

We are back on track with “This Week,” and God willing will stay that way. Thanks for your patience.

 

This Week in Prayer: 

 

This Sunday’s gospel gives us two descriptions of people passionately pursuing all-consuming goals. In the first, the would-be farmer sells, with joy, all he owns to obtain the treasure. In the second, the merchant surrenders all for the pearl of great price. Both persons organize their lives around a single burning desire. Every choice they make considers that goal.

 

Many members of the early church harbored similar passions. But rather than pursuing earthly treasures or jewels, they discovered and pursued relationship with the risen Christ. Like the farmer and the merchant, they asked a single question to evaluate their choices: “Does this option lead me closer to Christ or not?” If yes, then pursue it. If not, then skip it. Their example challenges us. We know that on our good days, we are as single-minded as the merchant, the farmer, and the early Christians. We wonder what helps us imitate them and what gets in the way of being so focused on Jesus.

 

This Sunday’s gospel presents another, equally important challenge. It is the challenge of recognizing that each of us is Jesus’ pearl of great price, His priceless treasure. Our peace in this life and our eternal happiness is all that matters to Him. Every choice he made promoted our peace and eternal life. It matters now as he intercedes for us at the Father’s right hand. 

 

Regrettably, the evil spirits like to tell us that we are not His pearl of great price, that we are not His great treasure. The evil spirit lives to remind us that we have sinned, have made bad choices and are flawed. On our bad days, the dark spirits convince us that our sins and flaws deactivate Christ’s longing for us, that those sins and flaws prevent Christ from seeing us as pearl or treasure, that our sins and flaws are deal-killers. 

 

Fortunately, there are no deal-killers in Christ’s passion for us. He calls us to conversion. He invites us to repent. But he does not abandon us. There are no deal-killers. Peter’s denial, Martha’s interrogation, Matthew’s occupation, Bartimeus’ blindness – none of them was a deal killer. And none of our choices and flaws is a deal-killer. Slow, quiet repetition of two Jesus prayers can help us soak in Jesus’ eternal devotion.

 

  1. Lord Jesus Christ, Living Son of the Living God, Help me to trust that ________________ is not a deal killer.
    (insert that sin or flaw that the dark side likes to tell you is a deal-killer)

  2. Lord Jesus Christ, Living Son of the Living God Help me to trust that I am your pearl of great price.

 

What piece of your past – what sinful choice or a regrettable result – makes you want to pray those prayers? What aspect of your nature makes you want to pray them? And who in your orbit might be feeling the weights of uninspired self-recrimination or self-doubt and needs for you to pray the prayers for them?

This Week in Service:

  • If you haven’t already seen the parish’s vegetable farm, take a walk past the far end of the solar panels. The view justifies the effort. That field of green close to the fence is the pumpkin patch. If these pumpkins make it to market, you can expect a significant dip in world pumpkin prices. (OK, slight exaggeration)

  • Attention Caregivers. If you are a caregiver – for friends, relatives or if it is your job – Mark your calendar for our annual caregivers retreat on Saturday, September 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon in the parish Hospitality Room. The morning will start with Mass, followed by the retreat program and lunch. If you have friends and relatives who are caregivers, please invite them, regardless of their parish affiliation or religious affiliation. More details to follow.

  • Elijah’s Promise! Our parish is renewing its commitment to serve in the dining room of Elijah’s Soup Kitchen. The current plan is for St Joe’s to staff the dining room on the third Sunday of each month. It is an ideal ministry for those who have limited time to provide weekday ministry. It is also a terrific ministry for families that like to serve together. If you can join us on Sunday, August 20 – from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – terrific! Please fill in this form or contact Terry Lee or Michelle Laffoon

This Week in Community:

  • Thanks to the Acoustics Task Force. Six parishioners have agreed to manage the renovation of the church acoustics. Many of you mention that you have good hearing but cannot hear in church. We are in the very first stages of analyzing and correcting. Please let me know if you have any special concerns. You can read the initial planning document here.

  • Thanks to all who have pitched in to renew the courtyard garden. Jeremy Goldstone built the fence to keep the deer out. Brian Gilmurray (staff) and Walt Rusak did a yeoman’s job on a sweltering day removing the overgrown junipers and roses. Rich Pennacchio (staff) removed all the stumps and Ken Scherer arranged to have the top layer of clay removed from the new beds. Suzanne and Vince Kral pulverized the underlying clay and mixed in the hi-test peat moss. We will spread the new topsoil on Saturday and the manure on Sunday, after the last Mass. The soil is in tip top shape and ready for any colorful perennials you care to share. The garden re-dedication is currently scheduled for St. Francis’ feast. 

  • Please let me know if you have any suggestions about types of adult formation programs you would like our parish to provide during the upcoming school year.

  • Contact Michelle Laffoon if you have home medical equipment to donate. Also, let Michelle know if you would like to help coordinate that emerging ministry.

  • Many thanks to the more than 250 families who have completed their registration process for 2017-2018 religious ed classes by the 7/31 deadline! We are currently sorting through it all, and figuring out where we still have a need for teachers and aides. If you are interested in sharing your faith this way, we would love to have you. Please contact Jim Jungels.Also, anyone who has already registered should hear by the end of the month about their class placement. Anyone who still needs to register can go to the website. We will place your children as soon as we have finalized classes for those registered by the deadline.

  • HELP NEEDED: Please let me know if you might help us fill one of the following positions:

    • A Security Pro. If you have worked in corporate or industrial security, the Buildings and Grounds Committee could use your help as it figures out how to reorganize the parish lock and key system.

    • A Municipal or Corporate Planner. If you have ever worked as a strategic planner, the Parish Council could use your expertise as its planning committee sets about the work of formulating a spiritual/pastoral/formational/facilities/financial plan for the parish. 

    • An Acoustics Expert. See above for report on Acoustics overhaul.

    • A Communications Professional.The Parish Council is still seeking just the right person to chair the communications group – to help us communicate more richly with each other and our community.

Remember, August is here. If you are thinking of getting some down time, get it while the getting is good. You deserve it! 

 

Best blessings

Fr Hank