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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – October 19, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

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

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

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


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

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

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


THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

With blessings for every parishioner, 

Fr Hank

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – October 12, 2018

Dear All:     

Christ’s Peace.

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

THIS WEEK IN OUR MORTGAGE HISTORY

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

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

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

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

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


THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fr Hank

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – September 21, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

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

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

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


 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

Fr Hank

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


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

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

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

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – September 14, 2018

Dear All:     

Christ’s Peace.

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fr Hank

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – September 7, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

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

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

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

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

Thanks and hope to see you there!

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

Fr Hank

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – August 24, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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


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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – August 3, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY

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


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

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

 

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


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


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


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

 

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


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


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


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


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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

Christ’s Peace.

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

    • Roberto and Megan Carswell,

    • Anthony and Yvonne Comito,

    • Thomas and Kimberly Fleming and their children Alexandra and Sadie

    • Thomas and Diane Smiley and their children Megan and Thomas

    • Dodd and Angela Weisenberger and their children Emma and Deanna

    • Chris and Christine Wynkoop and their son Kyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

 

Summary of July 8 Homily:

Talitha koum, Part Two: Jesus and our cranky beloved

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Summary of July 15 Homily:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 

 

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

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER  

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

     

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Talitha koum, Part One: Jesus loves our beloved

 

“Talitha koum.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 


Christ’s peace!

 

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER  

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 


Christ’s peace!


SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT THE NEW KEYS – 


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

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

 

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

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 

 

Christ’s peace!

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 

 

Christ’s peace!

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

 

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

 

Teilhard’s Preamble to a Prayer for Patience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

    • Nanda Cotturone

    • Louis and Louise Distefano

    • Josephine Giordano

    • Charles and Arlene Jacey

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

    • Arthur McFadden

    • Barry Panzarino and Linda Tancs-Panzarino

    • Elaine Whelan
       

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Trinity Sunday and the Call to Patience

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

When Charity Overpowers Fear

 

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

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

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

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

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 18, 2018

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

Please join me in congratulating and praying for Michael Tabernero – a lifelong Saint Joe’s parishioner – who will be ordained to the diaconate tomorrow morning and who will preach his first homily at tomorrow’s 4:45 Mass. Greatest blessings for Michael, for his parents (Mary and Peter) and for his siblings (Nick and Maggie). 

 

 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • First Communions – At Sunday’s 9:30 Mass, we will have the privilege of sharing Jesus’ body and blood with the 16 young parishioners who will be making their First Communions. Our whole parish is grateful to you for saying “yes” to Jesus. We are also grateful to your parents, your families, your CCD teachers and all who have brought you to this moment. May God make the Eucharist a source of consolation for you for many years to come.

  • Red – What to Wear on Pentecost Sunday? – Several parishioners have recently asked about the practice of wearing red to church on Pentecost (this Sunday). Great idea! Lots of people at lots of churches make it a regular practice. The real gift of it all comes when people comment on your red clothes and you get to tell them why you are wearing red and what the feast means to you. (N.B. – The invitation to wear red does NOT apply to first communicants!)

  • Green – Back to Ordinary Time – On Monday (May 21) we return to ordinary time. The vestments will again be green – for the first time since February 13. The big cross will be returned to its usual place behind the altar and the corpus will once again be on the cross. We will remain in ordinary time until December 1.

  • White – Sunday Solemnities? — Upcoming Sundays are exempt from the return to green. This Sunday features red (for the Feast of Pentecost) while the following two Sundays feature white, for the feasts of The Holy Trinity (May 27) and Corpus Christi (June 3). The colors are, of course, simply the visual expression of the deeper truths. Why do you suppose the feasts are arranged as they are?

  • Sunday’s Homily – “Jesus’ Names, Part 6: “Protector”

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Hokies and Huskies – Great thanks to some dear, old and anonymous pals from my grammar school days who recently treated us to some upgrades for our St. Francis garden – cushions for the patio furniture and an espalier apple tree for the west side of the garden. All are encouraged to enjoy the evolving space whenever time allows. It is a lovely place to chill/hide/pray/read/escape. 

  • The Sound System – Thanks again to all who engineered the installation of our church’s new sound system. Last weekend’s evaluations were most encouraging and the observations of problems to solve have been very helpful. Per the original schedule, the smaller speakers have been installed for the area behind the servers and the choir section. The speakers for daily Mass are almost ready for prime time. We think we have figured out what made my mic cut out. Thanks and onward!!! (it will be in the works for a few more weeks)

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

  • 5K – Now is the perfect time to sign-up for our 5th Annual 5K Walk/Run on June 9. This year we are supporting BoroSAFE (suicide prevention and awareness in our schools) and our summer service trips to Newark and Appalachia. 

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network – The cots have all been packed up and moved to their next location – and we can now lean back and thank God for a very successful week of hosting two homeless families in our Parish Hall. It takes an enormous amount of preparation, coordination, and generosity to make it all happen and happen it all did. Special thanks to all who coordinated and stayed overnight.

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones as we celebrate Pentecost and move forward into ordinary time.

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Jesus’ Names, Part 6: “Protector”

 

The Sundays since Easter have invited us to reflect on what it means to call Jesus “My Lord,” “The Christ,” “The Good Shepherd,” “The True Vine,” and “My Friend.” Last Sunday’s gospel added another concept to our list, “Protector.”

 

Sunday’s gospel comes from John 17, “The High Priestly Prayer,” from John’s “Book of Glory.” (N.B. – It truly is worth a quiet read, to encounter Jesus praying for YOU.) One of the first things Jesus says to the Father is “When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them.” He subsequently adds “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one” and “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.” 

 

Odd mix, isn’t it? Jesus protects and guards them while, at the same time, exposing them to the dangers of the world to which “they do not belong,” a world that “despises them.” Jesus’s way of protecting the disciples does not include isolating them from the world or deactivating them or removing them from the reach of all hurt of harm. Jesus intends to protect them, not to bubble-wrap them. He sends them knowing they will get hurt, praying that they will make inspired choices that align the Father’s hopes rather than with the devil’s designs.

 

Sunday’s passage from Acts aligns with Jesus’ way of protecting his disciples. Peter clearly longs to protect the newborn Christian community from the unraveling that Judas’ defection threatens to cause. To point the community toward growth rather than diminishment, Peter engineers the election of Judas’ replacement. After protecting the community in this way, Peter later participates in the missioning of the apostles in every direction. Peter, like Jesus, wants to protect the community without bobble-wrapping it into isolation or inactivity.

 

What about you? Most loving relationships entail a desire to protect the beloved. Sometimes, however, those protective impulses get carried away. Sometimes they cause us to stifle the beloved, to deprive them of experiences, some of which may be hurtful or harmful, that God might want them to have. Sometimes our protective impulses can drive us to deep, uninspired agitation as we strive to keep our vulnerable loved ones from every imaginable danger. It happens in our love for young people, old people, and everyone in between. It is sometimes difficult to reassess our “zero harm” policies and difficult to live with the reassessment, but you have done it. As much as you might like to bubble-wrap a loved one, to protect the beloved from all threats, you know that is not what Jesus is asking, and you have done the hard work of letting go a little. In what relationships are you getting it just right – i.e., loving and protecting your beloved as Jesus loved and protected his? 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 11, 2018

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • First Communions – All best blessings for the youngsters who made their First Communions last weekend. You inspired the congregation and we are grateful to witness your friendship with Jesus. May God continue to bless your life with Jesus in the Eucharist and may God continue to bless your families, your CCD teachers and all who brought you to this moment. Blessings too for all who will make their First Communions on May 20 at the 9:30 Mass.

  • Ordinations: Please join me in thanking God for the vocations of 

    • Michael Tabernero, who will be ordained a deacon on Saturday, May 19 and will preach here later that day (remember, refreshments after the 4:45 Mass) and

    • Tholitho, who will be ordained a priest on Saturday, June 9 and will celebrate Mass here on Sunday, June 10 at 6:00 pm.
       

  • Sunday’s Homily – “Jesus’ Names, Part 5: “Friend”

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Prayer Shawl Ministry – Our reactivated Prayer Shawl Ministry is off to a remarkably excellent reboot. We now have two groups, each of which gathers 4 times each month. The group welcomes all, regardless of current abilities to knit, crochet, etc. By the way, the yarn donations have been extremely impressive. Stay tuned for news about this summer’s Knitting and Crochet Camp (for moms and kids).

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

  • Physical Plant – As of Thursday evening, the new sound system is almost ready for prime time. Great thanks to the committee that did all the legwork and thanks to the workers from Somerset Media who have been so gracious in accommodating our daily Masses and Holy Day Masses. 

  • Stay tuned for more information about updating your parish records. It will take only a few minutes.

  • Becca’s Friends Social Club (our parish community for people with special needs) is at it again.  Take a look at their patriotic paintings in the Gathering Space.  Like the group’s Christmas paintings, these paintings will be made into cards.  The Sunshine Ministry will use them to write to veterans and active duty military. Stay tuned for information about buying cards for your own use.

  • Now is the perfect time to register for the St. Joe's 5th Annual 5K Run/Walkon June 9. You get healthy, add to your St. Joe's wardrobe with a cool t-shirt and help support the service trips for our youth and young adults. A trifecta!

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • A Beautiful Welcome – Owing to the efforts of more than 60 parishioners, our church has been able to extend a most beautiful welcome to two homeless families this week. (Both families include a very cute 14-month-old). Dozens of our parishioners gave their time to cook, welcome and sleep overnight with the two families. Great blessings for all who helped and special thanks to Sue Calamoneri, Allyson Scillatani, Sid Lentz, Kristen Mazeura and IT Guru, Gregory Scillatani. God has been glorified greatly in our parish hall these seven nights. 

With all best blessings for all of you and with a special prayer for those who celebrate mother’s day and another for whom it is a sad day 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Jesus’ Names, Part 5: “Friend”

 

Jesus uses the word “friends” three times in Sunday’s gospel (John 15):

“ . . . to lay down one's life for one's friends.”

“You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

“I no longer call you slaves . . . I have called you friends”

 

That last phrase is the puzzling one. Why does Jesus contrast “friends” with “slaves?” Wouldn’t “enemies” provide a better contrast to “friends?” Wouldn’t “free persons” be the more fitting opposite of “slaves?” Why does Jesus treat “friends” and “slaves” as opposites?

 

A big difference between “slaves” and “friends,” a difference on which Jesus might well be focusing, is that, in the culture of Jesus’ day, one would not feel compelled to help slaves make inspired choices. You wouldn’t help your slave to figure out the best choice because slaves generally didn’t have choices. Friends were a different story. They had choices and you loved them enough to help them figure out which choice was best.

 

In referring to us as his “friends,” Jesus acknowledges our freedom to choose and expresses his desire to help us figure out which choice is best. He is particularly eager for us to figure which choice is most likely to lead us toward complete joy. Yes, he gives us commandments. Yes, he takes the lead in choosing us first. And yes he sees us as free and loves us enough to help us figure out the best choice.

 

Peter and Cornelius, the lead characters in the first reading (Acts 10) do for each other precisely what Jesus wants to do for us. Each helps the other figure out which choice is best, which choice is more likely to lead toward more complete joy. With Cornelius’ inadvertent help, Peter figures out God wants him to baptize Gentiles. With Peter’s help, Cornelius figures out God wants him to be baptized. They help each other figure out God’s desires. They are brand new friends but they act like old friends.

 

The Peter/Cornelius story continues to unfold. We find it in our lives and in our world. Jesus, as much as ever, wants to help us figure it out – i.e., figure out which choice aligns with his hopes and leads to truer joy. Our friends help Jesus to help us figure out which choice leads us to truer joy. You have been that sort of a friend to others and others have been that sort of a friend to you. You have helped friends figure out what God wants and they have helped you. 

 

Sometimes the matters are overtly spiritual and involve questions about faith or sacraments or prayer or religious practices. Sometimes the matters are not overtly religious. They involve choices about studies or sports or retirement or relationships. So many of your stories are stories of friends helping friends figure out the path to more complete joy.

 

What about you? Name five true friends who have helped you figure out the path toward truer joy, who have helped you make the choices that align with Jesus’ hopes for you. Maybe they were old CCD or religion teachers. Maybe they were wisdom figures – relatives or teachers or coaches. Maybe they were helping professionals. Regardless of their role, they have been friends who helped you figure it out and, in doing so, helped fulfill Jesus’ hopes. Who is on your list and how do you thank God for these true friends and for Jesus, your truest and bluest of friends – the one who, right now, is loving you, is hoping you will choose the path to his joy and is helping you figure out how to do that?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 4, 2018

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

And a special word to the 4:45 folk - - - The proposed after-Mass Kentucky derby party is postponed until next year. The hospitality room’s TV is not yet fully connected to the cable. Enjoy the race wherever you watch it.

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Thursday is Ascension Thursday – Masses for the feast day are at 7:30 pm Wednesday, 8:35 am Thursday, and 7:30 pm Thursday. As the new sound system is being installed this week, the Masses might not be held in the main church. 

  • First Communions – 47 of our best and most blessed will make their First Communions in May. Half of them will receive Christ in the Eucharist this Sunday at the 9:30 and the 11:30. Others will do so on May 20 at the 9:30. All best blessings for the First Communicants and for their families. Great big thanks for all the CCD staff who have helped to bring the youngsters to this grace-filled moment. For each First Communicant, may this be the start of a magnificently graced Eucharistic relation with Jesus. 

  • Confirmations – Our 75 confirmandi were terrific. What a remarkable grace it was to stand with you as Abbot Elias signed you and blessed you. Our church and our world are better because you made the choice to be confirmed. Thanks and more thanks and all great graces. I very much look forward to seeing most of the confirmandi at Sunday’s youth group gathering. Take the plunge into the youth group. You will be very glad you did. 

  • Ordinations:

    • Saturday, May 19 – Michael Tabernero will serve as deacon at the 4:45 Mass and will preach – after having been ordained a deacon that morning. Refreshments to follow.
    • Sunday, June 10 – at the 6:00 pm Mass, Father Tholitho will say a Mass of Thanksgiving, after having been ordained a priest the day before
  • May Crowning – Blessings for all who made Wednesday morning so excellent. Thanks to the Mahajan and Cusack families for the beautiful statue. Thanks to Angelo, Rosie and the Flower Barn for the May Crown. Thanks to Jo-Ann Carey for crowning the statue and thanks to Bernie Demsky for rearranging the crown. Thanks to Chris Leslie for leading us in song and thanks to the 8:35 club for the refreshments and the setup. Most of all, thanks to the 120 people whose presence enriched the event.

  • A Morning at Lourdes – Still more thanks to Jo-Ann Carey for the very moving introduction to Lourdes. Jo-Ann’s excellent presentation reminds us that, at every age, we have so much to learn about the way God pours love into our world. Maybe we should add similar presentations to First Wednesdays?
     

  • Sunday’s Homily – “Jesus’ Names, Part 4: The Vine”

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

  • Spring Cleaning was outstanding. The turnout was inspiring and the energy was the same. Thanks to all who rejuvenated the Prayer Path, cleaned up the parking lot, lugged the downed lumber, emptied the rectory basement, rejuvenated the Yorktown triangle and Mt. Calvary, cleaned out the detention pond, trimmed the old growth of grasses and trees, carted chips and pine needles and on and on. Special thanks to Walt Rusack, JoAnn Delasko, George Meyer, Bryan DeLisi and Bob Ferretti. Total success.

  • Physical Plant – This is a big week for physical improvements. Installation of the New Sound System is scheduled to start on Monday. Replacement of the Parish Hall Boiler is slated to begin on Tuesday.

  • Parish Funerals will be held at Mary Mother of God this week. Please keep an eye on your parish emails for updates on funerals.

  • Stay tuned for more information about updating your parish records. It will take only a few minutes.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • HELP the parish help the homeless – Dozens of people are all set to enable our parish to host the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) starting on Sunday. While almost every position has been filled, we still need Virtus-certified overnight people – one for Friday 5/11 and one for Saturday 5/12. If you can help, please contact Sid Lentz at sidvicious@hotmail.com And don’t let Sid’s email scare you. He’s big and has a tough email address but he is a marshmallow and will be grateful for your help. You can also contact Sue Calamoneri at   matlison@yahoo.com

  • Virtus Training – Thanks to the 27 new people who were Virtus trained on Wednesday night. The certification enables you to provide many valuable services to the parish and those it serves. Thanks!

  • Congratulations to the members of our Youth Group who participated in the 30-hour famine last weekend. Your dedication – and your participation in both Masses on Saturday – is a blessing for us all. Extra thanks to all who supported the UTES in any way. 

With all best blessings for all of you and your experience of God’s grace in May.

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Jesus’ Names, Part 4: “The Vine”

 

The week after Easter, the readings asked us to consider the meaning of “Lord.” The following week focused us on the meaning of “The Christ.” Then it was “The Good Shepherd.” Last week the gospel invited us to contemplate Jesus as “The Vine.”

 

Sunday’s excerpt from John’s gospel reminds us that Jesus regards himself as the vine (think “trunk”) and us as the branches, the part of the plant that bears fruit. Regrettably, he does not elaborate on the meaning of “fruit.” Some denominations think of “fruit” as new recruits to their religion. Others understand fruit as “a self more devoted to Jesus.” Jesus provides little clarity. 

 

Sunday’s second reading helps to clarify the meaning of “fruit.” The author of The First Letter of John, who might well be the same fellow who wrote John’s gospel, urges us to “love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” Love expresses itself in loving deeds. The passage also counsels us to love one another as Jesus told us to. If we connect Sunday’s gospel and second reading, we might conclude that “fruit” refers to “loving deeds performed, ultimately, for Jesus.” We might also conclude that Jesus wants us to notice the fruitful branches, love them, bless them, and imitate them.

 

Sunday’s passage from Acts identifies a major challenge: we sometimes fail to see fruitful branches for what they are. Paul, still called “Saul” at this point in the story, has become a fruitful branch but people don’t get it. They still think of him as a wolf who wants to destroy the community.

 

What about you? Are there fruitful branches in your life that you don’t recognize? Are there people who regularly perform loving deeds for you – at home, at school, at work, in the extended family, on your team, wherever – but you are maybe taking them for granted, failing to see them as the marvelously fruitful branches they are? Maybe they don’t tell Jesus, with each loving deed, “Jesus I am doing this for you,” but so what? If you pressed them on it they would confess that they would not stop performing the good deed because doing so would violate their faith and hurt their life with Christ. They are fruitful branches – they perform loving deeds because, ultimately, they know Jesus wants them to. Failure to acknowledge fruitful branches for what they are reduces our appreciation for God’s action in our world. Recognition of the fruitful branches around us deepens our faith and our enthusiasm. A fruitful branch is a terrible thing to overlook. A fruitful branch is a wonder to behold, in the world around us - - - and in the mirror. 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - April 27, 2018

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Confirmation – Great blessings for our 75 confirmandi, their sponsors, their families, and those who prepared them for confirmation.  It was a privilege for all of us to pray with you and for you.  Thanks too to Abbot Elias Lorenzo, O.S.B. for making the prayer so special and thanks to the dozens of parishioners who did their bit to make the evening beautiful.   (N.B. – Confirmandi – each of you looked like a million bucks and did very well on the hand-shake test.  Clearly, you are ready to be church big-kids.)  

  • May Crowning – For those of you who recall fondly the May Crownings of your youth, great news.  We will crown our brand-new blessed mother statue on Wednesday, May 2, right after the 8:35 Mass.  Giant thanks to those who donated the statue and who will remain anonymous until after the crowning.

  •  A Morning at Lourdes is just around the corner.  JoAnn Carey will share her very well-developed introduction to Lourdes right after the May Crowning (and after the abbreviated First Wednesday party) on Wednesday, May 2.  The presentation promises to be first-rate and to reactivate your affection for Mary.
     

  • Sunday’s Homily – “Jesus’ Names, Part 3: The Good Shepherd”

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Save the Dates:

    • Saturday May 19 – Michael Tabernero will serve as deacon at the 4:45 Mass and will preach – after having been ordained a deacon that morning.  Refreshments to follow.
    • Sunday June 10 – at the 6:00 pm Mass, Father Tholitho will say a Mass of Thanksgiving, after having been ordained a priest the day before.
    • Saturday June 23 – after the 4:45 Mass – celebrate the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the new church – and quite possibly another achievement that you will read about next week.  But even if that other achievement does not materialize, 20 years is worth celebrating.  It will be BYOB after Mass for an hour or so.
  • Spring Cleaning happens on Saturday morning.  Thanks in advance to all who are able and willing to join the effort and thanks to Walt Rusak for organizing it.  It is terrific of all of you to spend the time – when you surely could be spending the 2 hours working on your own yards!

  • Comedy Night was a rollicking great time on Saturday.  Huge thanks to the staff and volunteers who made it an evening of such great fun for nearly 250 parishioners and their pals.  Comedy Night was the fifth time this year that a few hundred people gathered in the parish hall for food and fellowship.  The calendar for next year’s fellowship events, starting with the September picnic, will be published before you know it.  Please email me if you have any suggestions for next year’s events.  In all of it, extra special blessings for those who made an effort to meet a new person.

  • Building and Grounds – Along with the 20th anniversary come many of the improvements that need to be made after 20 years.  Owing to your generosity, and the outstanding work of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, and our staff – especially Bryan DeLisi, Bob Ferretti, Monica McDevitt and Bill Jannone – we have been able to stay on top of the to-do list:

    • The New Sound System for the church is scheduled to be installed the week of May 7

    • The New Boiler for the Parish Hall will also be installed the week of May 7.   By the way, we are greatly blessed that the old boiler made it through the winter.  Thanks to all who learned how to reboot it on cold days. 

    • All new LED light bulbs and fixtures have been installed throughout the buildings, except in the worship space.

    • Thanks to the hard work of several folk, the state is subsidizing the light bulbs and the boiler.

  • All of our parish funerals will be held at Mary Mother of God during the week of May 7 -12.  The parish staff and I will conduct the funerals but they will be held at MMOG.  Great thanks to Fr. Sean and our GREAT pals in Flagtown for being such great neighbors.

  • Stay tuned for more information about updating your parish records.  The diocese has adopted a new database management system that allows us to undertake the large and very productive task of updating our records – so the parish can serve all more effectively. CCD families have already updated their files – and report that it takes only a few minutes.   

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • HELP – Our parish is hosting the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) the week of May 6-12.  We still need greeters, overnight volunteers and folks to do some of the miscellaneous jobs.  Help us fill all the spots this week!    Please contact Sue Calamoneri at   matlison@yahoo.com

  • Please consider getting VIRTUS trained – Many parish ministries require the parishioners to be Virtus trained.  Even if you aren’t committed to a ministry that requires Virtus, there are many occasions when we need a sub – not to do much.  Our next training is May 2 at 6:30. Sign-up here.

  • Members of our Youth Group will be making their 30-hour famine this weekend.  Please pray for them and those who are guiding them.  This experience provides important life-long lessons.  Thanks in advance for supporting them as you do.

With all best blessings for all of you and all you do – 


Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

 

Jesus’ Names, Part 3: “The Good Shepherd”

We call Jesus by many names and each name carries a mountain of meaning.  Three weeks ago, the Sunday readings invited us to wonder about calling him “Lord.”  Two weeks ago the appellation was “Christ.”  Last week it was “The Good Shepherd.” 

 

The Good Shepherd is one of the four people Jesus references in John 10: 11-18.  The other three are the sheep, the hired shepherd, and the wolf.  The wolf scatters the sheep. 

 

The hired shepherd protects and upbuilds the flock when doing so is convenient and profitable.  The Good Shepherd always loves and serves the flock, even when that service demands great sacrifice.

 

We play the wolf when we let our selfish appetites divide the flocks/communities to which we belong.  We play the wolf when we urge others to choose sides rather than to stay neutral when we slander other community-members when we impose a my-way-or-the-highway ultimatum on family members or colleagues or team-mates.

 

We imitate The Good Shepherd when we value “us” more than “me.”  We imitate The Good Shepherd when we put some of our plans on the back-burner so that others can flourish, when we tweak our schedules to get the work/home balance right when we wait to calm down before addressing an egregious slight.  In these ways and countless others, we imitate The Good Shepherd.

 

Sunday’s passage from Acts 4: 8-12 depicts Peter blasting Caiaphas and his cronies for their excessive selfishness.  They “crucified (Jesus) whom God raised from the dead” largely because they wanted to protect their lavish lifestyles.  They were so stuck on “me” that they could not begin to consider “us” and the great good Jesus might do for “us.”   Caiaphas was not only a bad shepherd, he was a world-class wolf.  (N.B. – Jesus was also upbraiding Caiaphas in the gospel.)

 

In more ways than you can imagine, you imitate The Good Shepherd.  You are probably so used to loving and not counting the cost that you lose sight of your inspired, good-shepherd habits.  So, go ahead.  Name five of your best good shepherd habits – and then give God the glory.  Every time you do what is best for the community rather than what is most rewarding and convenient for yourself, you are being a good shepherd.  God gives you that grace and you use it well.

 

Then name your strongest wolf tendency, the greatest single temptation the evil spirit waves in front of your face and heart to coax you to make the choices that, intentionally or not, divide the community.  It might be your way of recreating, or your way of managing money, or the way you overdo or underdo your physical fitness or the way you try to make yourself look good at another’s expense.  Then ask God for the help you need to quit wolfing and start shepherding.

 

And remember – your good shepherd choices vastly outnumber your wolf choices, because God loves you and gives you the grace to maintain that ratio!

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - April 20, 2018

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

Good for all of us. This is an ordination season for us to celebrate heartily. 

 

Our very own Michael Tabernero (son of Mary and Pete, brother of Maggie and Nick) has been called to Holy Orders and will be ordained a deacon on May 19. Michael will serve as a deacon and preach at the 4:45Mass that very day.

 

Then, on June 9, Deacon Tholitho will be ordained a priest. Deacon Tholitho, who served here in the summer of 2016, will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving here the day after his ordination -- on Sunday, June 10 at 6:00 pm. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 THIS WEEK I N PRAYER 

  • OOPS – Sorry about the typo in last week’s THIS WEEK. The point about “Lord” is that it is sometimes presented as “LORD” (caps) and sometimes as “Lord” (upper and lower case). The underlying theological reasons for using the two forms are the stuff of long, lovely conversation.

  • Mary’s Month of May is just around the corner. Think of starting it off by joining the 8:35 Mass folk for Mass, coffee and carbs, a round of “Happy Birthday” for the May babies, and then a presentation on the “Lourdes Experience” by our own Joanne Carey. It will surely be an informative and prayer-provoking presentation. 

  • Confirmation -- All best blessings for our 75 young people who will be confirmed next Thursday, April 26 by Rt. Rev. Elias R. Lorenzo, O.S.B. We look forward to welcoming Abbot Lorenzo and the friends and families of our confirmandi. 

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer — Continued blessings for all who completed the program and for all who are developing new ways to keep the graces vibrant. Special kudos for the “Monday Early Group” and for the men’s group and its ingenious plan for moving forward.

Sunday’s Homily – “Jesus’ Names, Part 2: Christ”

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

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

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • God continues to bless our parish in marvelous ways with our new parishioners. Please join me in welcoming: 

    • Paul and Maureen Coletti and their son Paul; 
    • Dennis and Cathy Hammer; 
    • James and Roseanne McDonald, and;
    • Lou and Jen Kolomatis and their son Niko
  • Saturday’s COMEDY NIGHT is on Saturday and is all filled up. That means tickets will not be sold at the door. God bless the laughter and the people who are making it possible. 

  • Help us keep it clean! Great thanks to the many parishioners who have already indicated their willingness to help us do a big Spring Cleaning on the morning of Saturday, April 28. Some of the jobs are already claimed. Others, including the edging of several plant beds, could use a few extra hands. And please consider two special requests:

    • Confirmation Service Hours – 7th graders who still need to log service hours can help out with the clean up – as long as they have an adult with them (anybody over 18)
    • Gym Rats and Meat Heads – We have a few projects that require some heavier lifting. Don’t worry, we’re not talking Olympic weightlifting heavy – just some boxes and busted up furniture that needs a ride from the rectory basement and garage to the parking lot dumpster. We also need a few muscle-women and muscle-men to carry chopped up tree parts to the dumpster. There will be a special sign-up sheet in the gathering space this weekend for those who have what it takes!
  • The NEW SOUND SYSTEM for the church is scheduled to be installed the week of May 7. Greatest thanks to all of you who have kept the Parish Council and me aware of the problem and more great thanks to John Jorgensen, Kevin Buist, Frank Viola, Bob Ferretti, and Brian Gilmurray for moving the research and bidding process along. The system will probably go live the weekend of May 19.

  • All of our parish FUNERALS will be held at Mary Mother of God during the week of May 7 -12. The parish staff and I will conduct the funerals but they will be held at MMOG. Great thanks to Fr. Sean and our GREAT pals in Flagtown for being such great neighbors.

  • Stay tuned for more information about updating your parish records. The diocese has adopted a new database management system that allows us to undertake the large and very productive task of updating our records – so the parish can serve all more effectively. CCD families have already updated their files – and report that it takes only a few minutes. 

  • If you work with youth or vulnerable adults at the church (or want to) then you will need to go through the Virtus: Protecting God's Childrencertification. To register for the May 2 session being held at St. Joe's click this link

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Expressions of gratitude continue to flow in for our Bluestorm hoopstersand their organizers. The Easter baskets you assembled and distributed continue to elicit great praise from those who received them. Good for you!

  • Our parish is hosting the Interfaith Hospitality Network the week of May 6. The ministry has recently made great strides in automating the signup sheets for the dozens of people required to make the week work. Just a gentle reminder – if you haven’t already signed up, please do so soon. It makes the planning that much easier for the planners.

  • Members of our Youth Group will be making their 30-hour famine in late April to raise money to for some worthy charities including Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen, S.H.I.P. and World Vision. There are multiple ways to support them  1) Fill out a prayer card to pledge prayers on April 27 & 28, 2) Put money into the Poor Boxes this weekend and next 3) Go to the online sponsor page.

Last weekend’s use of the parish hall provided another reminder of how greatly blessed our parish is. Friday night’s painting party for our parishioners with special needs was blessed by the presence of friends from some nearby group homes. The artwork was terrific and the vibe superb. Saturday morning we had the privilege of hosting the funeral luncheon for Ed Herrmann and on Sunday morning CCD students filled the parish hall. Sunday night the youth group made great use of the facility. The activity is vibrant, focused, inspired and inspiring, because of what you do. Thanks for the inspiration.

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

 

Jesus’ Names, Part 2: “Christ”

 

Most references to Jesus are not synonyms - e.g., “Lord” means one thing and “Son of David” implies another. The words “Christ” and “Messiah” provide the major exceptions to that rule. Used as references to Jesus they both mean “The Anointed One.” – the one whom the Father anointed and sent to teach us and rescue us. Sunday’s readings underscore the importance of “Christ.” (N.B. – Curiously, “Lord” appears almost 800 times in the New Testament but Christ only about 500 times.)

 

Sunday’s first reading (Acts 3) uses five different phrases to describe Jesus. Each expression emphasizes the unique connection between Jesus and his Father. The final phrase, “His Christ,” implies that the Father has no other Christ, no other anointed one. Jesus alone is THE Christ.

 

The second reading (1 John 2) comes from the chapter in which John warns of the direst outcomes for “the one who denies that Jesus is THE Christ.” The passage we heard on Sunday uses a more positive tone, reminding us that when we do sin, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.” Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Anointed One, is on our side.

 

In Sunday’s gospel (Luke 24), Jesus himself explains to the disciples that he, Jesus, is “the Christ (who) would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” He is not one anointed one among many, not one of a dozen messiahs. He is THE Christ.

 

We, as Catholic Christians, know that Jesus alone, of the 110 billion people who have ever lived on our planet, is THE Christ. He is the only Messiah, the only one anointed by the Father to teach us, rescue us and intercede for us. But where do we go with that as we encounter and love God’s many beloved in our neighborhoods, schools, gyms, workplaces, and other places who do not believe that Jesus is THE Christ? What about people when people in our families move away from that conviction, especially when they start to describe themselves as “spiritual, not religious?”

 

Sunday’s gospel gives us an indispensable clue. In his startling appearance to those who had abandoned Him, Jesus’ first word was “Peace.” What’s your strategy? When the moment is right to acknowledge different views of Jesus the Christ, how do you balance the calls to stand firm in your faith while loving the other?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - April 13, 2018

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

PREPARE TO LAUGH (AND EAT)! COMEDY NIGHT IS A WEEK AWAY! Our Third Annual Comedy Night, including dinner, will overrun the Parish Hall on Saturday, April 21. You can buy tickets (a) through the parish webpage by clicking on the Comedy Night banner, (b) over the phone by calling the office or (c) in the Gathering Space this weekend. We sell tickets until Tuesday at 10 pm. Let the laughs begin! (NB – All parishioners and friends over the age of 18 are encouraged to attend.)

unnamed (3).png

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER: 

  • The Triduum – Was there one moment in Holy Week that stands out for you as particularly grace-filled? The Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday was a time of extraordinary grace for me. What a rare privilege it was to witness people of every description express devotion to our crucified Christ. That moment made it very easy to believe anew that Jesus craves connection with you. So what about you? 

  • Sacrament Season – As we move from Easter toward Pentecost, preparations for Confirmation (Thursday, April 26) and First Communions(May 6 and May 20) move into high gear. Please say an extra prayer for all candidates for both sacraments – who remind us that the Church is alive and well in Hillsborough.

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer — Blessings for all the Meeting Christ groups that will continue to meet. The men’s group (late Monday) is meeting this Mondayat 7:30 in the hospitality room to chart the way forward. If you were part of that group or of Cornerstone, feel free to join us.
     

  • Sunday’s Homily – “Jesus’ Names, Part I: Lord”

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

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

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Hello new parishioners! May God use you to bless the parishioners of longstanding – and vice versa. We welcome: 

    • William and Carol Cwieka; 

    • Johnathan and Kimberly Garcia and their son Nolan; 

    • Keith and Jill Giunta and their son Jacob; 

    • Ted and Joanne Givand; 

    • Chad and Alyssa Macones and their children Josephine, Juliette, and Joshua; 

    • Chuck and Betsy Miller and their children Caitlyn and Jonathan; 

    • Chris Pagneth; 

    • John and Kim Taccarino and their daughter Olivia, and; 

    • Michael and Maggie Valenzano and their daughter Olivia.

  • Hope to see you at Comedy Night! (See above.)

  • If you work with youth or vulnerable adults at the church (or want to) then you will need to go through the Virtus: Protecting God's Childrencertification. To register for the May 2 session being held at St. Joe's click this link

  • Our Spring Cleanup Morning is Saturday, April 28. Pictures go on display this weekend – to show you the jobs that need to be done that day. The labors start right after the 8:35 Mass and should take only an hour or two. Check out the photos in the Gathering Space to see which job is calling your name!

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Many many cheers for our the members of our Bluestorm basketball program who delivered dozens of Easter baskets to the homebound and to residents of local nursing homes. The Easter baskets were a smash hit. The athletes collected donations for the baskets in January and February, assembled the baskets in March and delivered them on Easter Sunday. Their efforts brought great happiness to many people. Bravo!

  • Our parish is hosting the Interfaith Hospitality Network the week of May 6. The ministry has recently made great strides in automating the signup sheets for the dozens of people required to make the week work. Just a gentle reminder – if you haven’t already signed up, please do so soon. It makes the planning that much easier for the planners.

  • Members of our Youth Group will be making their 30 Hour Famine in late April. Take a card from the bulletin board on the way into chuch for ideas on how you can support the youth.

Lent, the Triduum and Easter were greatly inspired days here at St. Joe’s. You, our dedicated parishioners, were the delivery-people for God’s grace. To those who went way above and beyond, may God bless your Easter season with a profound appreciation of the Resurrection’s implications.

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

 

Jesus’ Names, Part I: “Lord”

 

Christ’s Resurrection changed everything. It changed the way the disciples worked and lived together. It changed their relationships with the local authorities. It changed countless aspects of their lives, including the way they referred to Jesus and the way they addressed him. Because of the Resurrection, it made sense to call Jesus “Lord.”

 

The word “Lord” is used throughout the Old Testament. It is frequently presented as “Lord,” and at other times as “Lord.” (The distinction is important but is beyond this week’s focus.) When used in reference to Jesus it connotes “the one around whom I will organize my life; the one to whom I will always strive to say ‘yes,’ the one to whom I want to surrender my will.”

 

Sunday’s passage from Acts of the Apostles describes a community of “one heart and one mind.” The passage also reports that community members sold all they had and used it to support the early church. Both the oneness and the generosity were tall orders. Why did they satisfy them? Because, as the passage indicates, they called Jesus “Lord” and labored to do all that He requested.

 

 Sunday’s gospel depicts Saint Thomas’ great profession of faith, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas’ encounter with the Risen Christ caused him to call Jesus “Lord.” That, in turn, meant that Thomas would forever organize his life, even more profoundly, around Jesus and would always strive to say “yes” to Jesus.

 

Perhaps a challenge for us is to recognize those parts of our lives in which we want Jesus to be Lord and those in which we are keeping Him out. What about our financial lives? Our recreational and athletic lives? Our social lives? Our family and community lives”? 

 

What about you? What are some of the areas in life in which you truly strive to treat Him as Lord and let His hopes dominate your choices? And what is a part of life where you maybe aren’t all that anxious to get His input, perhaps fearing that doing so would reduce the quality of life? We all have next steps to make in terms of knowing, wanting and doing what He wants, in terms of treating Him as Lord. And we can step forward confident that He only asks us to take the steps that draw us closer to Him, draw us further into His peace, renew the face of the earth, and glorify God.