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

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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

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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.)

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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.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - March 23, 2018

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

Bring on the fish and bring on the step-dancers! Our Knights of Columbus will start serving the fish at 4:00this afternoon and will dish up the last meal at 8:00tonight. The Irish Step Dancing Troupe will perform at around 6:00 pm. 

 

We will also hear a brief word of thanks from the director of Feeding Hands – the agency that is delivering your truly amazing contributions of household and personal products to area homeless. You have done a truly remarkable job. You still have a chance to contribute. Just put your gifts in the bins at the fish fry. And get this – the project has already collected 300% (three hundred percent) of the original goal. You are one big gift.

 

Remember, if you are short on funds, just let me know. I will gladly give you a ticket. No one will know. No one should skip the fish fry because of funding. Also – new parishioners get free tickets.

 

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Our Lenten Penance Service – Great thanks to Frank Viola for the music and thanks to our stalwart ushers for keeping everything moving along so well. Thanks to the priests who came to hear confessions and thanks to Carol Valone for organizing the evening. A special thank you to everyone who did such a fine job of maintaining the sacred silence and keeping the atmosphere prayerful. Thanks most of all for your witness. Your presence and participation speak of your great convictions concerning God’s kindness and mercy and the sacrament’s great graces. Blessings for all.

  • Extra confession times this weekend – If you haven’t had a chance to get to confession this Lent, maybe make time this week. I will be in the confessional from noon until 1 pmtomorrow and then again from 3:30 to 4:25. Don’t worry if it’s been ages and don’t worry if you are fuzzy on the logistics. Just come!

  • Our Little Black Books — What about Monday’s reflection on Simon of Cyrene? What about those crosses that are pretty much thrust upon us without our full buy-in? You’ve carried such unexpected crosses and done so gracefully and with kindness. When?

  • Stations of the Cross – We will be praying the stations tonight during the Fish Fry. It’s probably better to eat first – as the stations end just around the time the Knights strike the set. 

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer — Too bad about the snow boxing out the last meeting of the Wednesday groups. Let’s maybe plan one final session – for both Wednesday groups – at 7:00 pm this Wednesday. We’ll meet either in the Haustus Room or the Nursery. For members of the other groups, keep thinking of your next steps in prayer. What might the Lord be nudging you to do?

  • Holy Week Schedules – Be sure to get a copy of the Holy Week schedule from the Moses Table. The basics: Holy Thursday at 7:30, Good Friday at 3:00 pm, Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil at 8:00 pm. Easter SundayMasses: 7:15 and 9:30, more traditional music (with the extra musicians who made the Christmas morning masses so beautiful) 11:30, our Contemporary Praise Group. No 6:00 pmon Easter.

  • Sunday’s Homily – “JCBFF Part Five: He never holds a grudge.”

    • 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:

  • Good thing we rescheduled the Spring Cleaning! The snow banks would have complicated our efforts if we’d stuck to the original date (tomorrow!). Our new day is Saturday, April 28, the weekend after Earth Day. The lists of tasks will be available right after Easter and signups will be the weekends of April 15 and 22. The tasks are arranged so that each group will work for about two hours.

  • Great thanks to those who organized Saturday’s Morning of Recollection for Caregivers. You did a terrific job – in every way. The caregivers among us are doing God’s work and you do them a great service by bringing them together and supporting them as you do. Three cheers for our caregivers and three more for those who care for the caregivers.

  • More thanks to all who arranged Monday’swingding for the Feast of St. Joseph – yet another marvelous moment in community. The event was delicious AND informative – especially for all of us who did not grow up in Italian households where the Saint Joseph memorials were extra-powerful. Mondayclearly was the start of a wonderful tradition to celebrate our patron saint.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Remember – you can still bring your donations for the Feeding Hands project. All gifts will be happily received at the Fish Fry tonight.

  • We still need a few volunteers for the week of May 6 when we host the families of the Interfaith Hospitality Network. Please contact Sid Lentz and the other project leaders if you can help out.

  • Members of our Youth Group will be making their 30-hour famine in late April. Stay tuned for invitations about how you can support this very impressive effort.

  • Operation Rice Bowl is also in full swing. The Rice Bowl project offers a fine option for families with young children to become more aware of those who go without – and to come to their aid.

May God bless you abundantly during Holy Week. May it be a time of greatly graced prayer for you and your loved ones. 

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:


“JCBFF Part Five: He never holds a grudge”
 

Do you recall the passages from scripture where Jesus rubs sinners’ noses in the reminder of sins they have put aside? Of course you don’t. Because there are none. Did Jesus threaten the apostles after the Resurrection – as in “You guys are worthless cowards?” No. He said “Peace.” And what about all those people who responded to his call to move from old ways to new ways? Levi? Peter? The Woman Caught in Adultery? Zaccheus? Did he hold grudges against them because of their old sins? Never. Their renunciation of those sins – in word or in deed – was all Jesus wanted.

 

Sunday’s first reading comes from Jeremiah 31, part of Jeremiah’s “Book of Consolation.” Referring both to the people of ancient Israel and to Jeremiah’s audience, God says “I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” Maybe we can hear God as telling them “you have done wrong but now you have sworn off your old ways and I will not hold a grudge. I will help you.” 

 

Sunday’s gospel, from John 12 suggests that Jesus holds none of the grudges his peers hold. He accepts the Greeks as equals of the Israelites. He has no intention of insulting the disciples who could not recognize His Father’s voice for what it is. He intends to draw all people to himself after He is killed. He wants only to steer us aright, not to punish us for old misdeeds that we have foresworn.

 

What about you? Are there sins you have confessed that keep haunting you? As they say in Brooklyn, God wants you to fuhgeddaboudit. Are there foolish moves in your past that, given the chance, you would never repeat? Fugheddaboutthem too. Satan wants us to dwell on old sins and mistakes. He wants to get us to rub our own noses in it. Not Jesus. He never holds a grudge. He never asks us to pay again for confessed sins and old mistakes. What makes you need to recall that? And what about people in your life? Who needs to be reminded that God holds no grudges. Move on.

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

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

Our Annual Fish Fry is a week away – Friday, March 23, the last Friday in Lent. Once again, a troupe of Irish dancers from the Heritage Irish Dance Company will be here to astound us with their fancy footwork. It will be good for us to have some fun together before we head into Holy Week. N.B. – if anyone is truly short on funding, let me know personally so I can discreetly give you a ticket.

 

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Our Lenten Penance Service – Come to church this Tuesday, March 20, at 7:30 for our parish’s Lenten penance service. Are you a regular at confession? Great, come on Tuesday and feel the grace of joining fellow parishioners in the sacrament. Has it been a while, maybe a long while, since your last confession? Great. No time like Tuesday to feel the sacrament’s amazing graces. 

  • Our Little Black Books — Wednesday’sreflection on “mob psychology” is a little unsettling. How is it that the crowds went from shouting “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday to shouting “Crucify Him” a few days later. What makes that happen?

  • Stations of the Cross – Thanks to the generous folk who continue to lead the prayers on Friday morning and Friday evenings during Lent. We will be praying the evening Stations tonight, next Friday at the end of the Fish Fry, and on Good Friday. Maybe think of putting Stations on your Lenten bucket list if you haven’t been in a while. The up-close consideration of Christ’s experience can be profound.

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer — Of course, we respect people of all faiths while we do what we can to enter further into ours. Per this week’s conversations, some of you might be Googling questions about Jesus’ post-resurrection nature. Interestingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses sponsor many of the offerings that land at the top of this Google search. Our beliefs differ considerably. Also, the phrase you might want to use in a Google Images search is “The Harrowing of Hell.”

  • More great blessings for our Confirmation Candidates who entered the next phase of their preparation at Saturday’s 4:45 Mass. 

  • Sunday’s Homily – “JCBFF Part Four: He desires our wellbeing, not our woe”

    • 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:

  • If you can make it, please reserve Saturday, April 28 for our parish’s morning of Spring Cleaning. The list of tasks will be posted in the Gathering Space the week after Easter. Signups will be the weekends of April 15 and 22. Thanks for your flexibility and for saving the April 28 morning.

  • Thanks to all who were part of the P.J Anderson Concert on Saturday night. It was a wonderful evening of music and fellowship. Great thanks to all who arranged it, set it up, and cleaned up afterward.

  • Best blessings for all who will participate tomorrow in the Morning of Recollection for Caregivers. Even if you haven’t signed up – think of joining us to take a quiet look at your caregiving mission. It is also a great time to be around people who “get it.” Special thanks to the morning’s organizers. 

  • Join the 8:35 Club on Monday – March 19 – for our celebration of our titular feast, the Feast of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary. Extra good refreshments will be available after Mass. The morning’s planners would like to honor Saint Joseph by making a donation to a local food bank. If you can bring a few canned goods to Monday’s celebration, so much the better. Hope to see you at Mass and the party.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • 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. Stay tuned for invitations about how you can support this very impressive effort.

  • We are off to a terrific start in our effort to support the Feeding Hands Ministry project. The bins for collecting household products and healthcare products have been filling up nicely. The big push will occur at the Fish Fry on March 23. Your generosity is, once again, impressive.

  • Operation Rice Bowl is also in full swing. The Rice Bowl project offers a fine option for families with young children to become more aware of those who go without – and to come to their aid.

I hope Lent is treating you well and that you are treating Lent well. May your efforts to disengage uninspired habits be at least as effective as your efforts to take up inspired habits. God bless you and all as we enter Lent’s home stretch.

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

 

“JCBFF Part Four: He wants our wellbeing, not our woe”

God tells us in Jeremiah 29: 11, “I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for your woe . . . to give you a future of hope.” Some translations render it “for your wellbeing and not for your woe.” Sunday’s readings shine bright lights on God’s desires to do just that.

 

The first reading comes from the last chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles – a book that complements the Books of Samuel and Kings. The passage reminds us that God sent many prophets to steer the Israelites away from the choices that would lead them to woe. The reading also points to the work of King Cyrus of Persia, the one God used to return the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem, from woe to wellbeing. God consistently works for our wellbeing and not for our woe.

 

Sunday’s gospel, “the home-plate gospel,” refers five times to God’s desire to bring us to heaven, the ultimate experience of wellbeing where there will be no woe. Sunday’s gospel states clearly that God’s benevolence is an amazing grace for each of us.

 

Difficult circumstances and uninspired choices, our own and others’, sometimes set us to wondering if God really cares about our wellbeing. The darkest hours can even make us wonder if God enjoys our woe. Those experiences are both understandable and uninspired. The fruits of those ruminations deserve no credence.

 

What about you? Can you think of someone who is seriously wondering if God prefers their woe to their wellbeing? Is there someone in your life who wonders if God really cares? What experience of yours might be worth sharing with that person? When have you been tempted to that sort of despair and then found your way out? When have you been wondered about God’s desires and then returned to the truth “God always cares?” What helped you return to peace?

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

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

Just a few more hours to the P.J. Anderson Concert! As Providence would have it, P.J. will be one of the music makers at the 4:45 Mass on Saturday. (That Mass also marks the conclusion of the day-long retreat for this year’s 75 confirmandi.) The Youth Group will be selling hot dogs and pizza in the parish hall between the end of the 4:45 Mass and when the doors open for the concert at 7:00 p.m. The prayerful nature of P.J.s music will surely help all present to be even more glad they are Christians. It is music for people of every age. Your free will offering will support the youth group’s summer work trip. For a small taste of what to expect from PJ, head to YouTube for a listen.

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Imaginative Prayer – Those who have made the Spiritual Exercises, like those who are Meeting Christ in Prayer, know the power of imaginative prayer. When we deliberately imagine the scripture scene’s physical details, the Holy Spirit has a way of leading us further into God’s truth and peace. Both the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross are custom-made for imaginative prayer. The Rosary group prays every morning before the 8:35 Mass and the Stations are prayed every Friday in Lent at 9:00 am and 7:30 pm. The morning stations are prayed in the Memorial Hallway. 

  • Our Little Black Books — What was your favorite part this week? Tuesday did it for me. The bit about Georgia O’Keeffe made me chuckle, but I can only explain why in person, not on the internet. (Hint, she grew up Sun Prairie, Wisconsin where I lived during my Madison years). That day’s portrait of Jesus was also powerful. Notice his response to people who misrepresented his words. What a role model.

  • Lenten change of habit? How goes it? Whether you are picking up an inspired habit or putting down an uninspired one, are you noticing God’s desire for you to succeed? Best blessings with your adjustments.

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer — Too bad the snow bumped our Wednesday evening groups. Pray on! Everyone in the program has to put up with a bit of spiritual whiplash this week as we contemplate the resurrection before Easter. Remember to keep your imaginations in high gear.

  • Confessions – No time like Lent to make an extra trip to confession, even if you don’t need a haircut! Come to the Reconciliation Room on Saturdays between 4:00 and 4:25 OR make an appointment to see me OR come to the Parish Reconciliation Service on Tuesday March 20.

  • Great blessings for our Confirmation Candidates who will be making their confirmation retreat on Saturday. 

  • Sunday’s Homily – “JCBFF Part Three: He champions our freedom.”

    • 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:

  • Our perennially popular Fish Fry is Friday March 23. And yes, the Irish Step Dancers will return! Mark your calendars. 

  • We have had to re-schedule our Spring Cleaning to Saturday, April 28. The snow mountains around the property, and the threat of more to come, make March 24 look a little sketchy for outdoor work. The list of jobs to be done will be posted in the Gathering Space the week after Easter. Signups will be the weekends of April 15 and 22. Thanks for your flexibility and for saving the morning of April 28.

  • Thanks to the nearly 200 parishioners who made Saturday’s Morning of Recollection for Parish Ministers such a great experience. The overall vibe was first-rate and the conversations were evidently terrific. Sometime this spring, you will be hearing more from Suzanne Kral and me to follow up on your thoughts about the current states and the immediate futures of your ministries. Extra blessings for all.

  • Because of the snow, the First Wednesdaycelebration for March has been rescheduled for next Wednesday, March 14. The gathering begins right after the 8:35 Mass. All are encouraged to come.

  • Rectory basement – after years of blessed accumulation, the rectory basement is scheduled for a major clean out as part of the April 28 Spring cleaning.  Have you stored something over there that you want saved?  Has your ministry done that?  If so, contact Suzanne Kral to let her know what you want to be saved.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • 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. Stay tuned for invitations about how you can support this very impressive effort.

  • We are off to a terrific start in our effort to support the Feeding Hands Food Pantryproject. The bins for collecting household products and healthcare products have been filling up nicely. The big push will occur at the Fish Fry on March 23. Your generosity is, once again, impressive.

  • Operation Rice Bowl is also in full swing. The Rice Bowl project offers a fine option for families with young children to become more aware of those who go without – and to come to their aid.

  • Check out the Moses Table this weekend for more information about our revitalized Guatemala Ministry. The ministry leaders are as dedicated as ever and eager to receive your help.

With special blessings for all who are amping up their prayer, service, and community-building this Lent. May God reward your extra efforts in prayer and in good habits with great consolations.

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

 

“JCBFF Part Three: He champions our freedom”

 

The Canticle of Zechariah (Luke 1: 67-79) stands out as one of the New Testament’s most inspiring passages. Zechariah’s song of praise includes three phrases that are both beautiful and consequential: “(The Lord) has visited his people and set us free . . . free from the hands of our enemies . . . free to worship him without fear.” The concepts of “free from” and “free to” give us a way to grasp the biblical notions of freedom, especially the freedoms Jesus encourages us to claim.

 

Sunday’s first reading lays out the Ten Commandments. Each commandment tells us to avoid a choice that ensnares us. Worshipping false gods, making false testimony, committing adultery, mistreating your parents – and all the other misdeeds, ensnare us in worry, conflict, and degradation. By obeying the commandments, we stay free from all the traps that violation of the commandments entails. And as Mark Twain told us and we all know, it is much easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble! Wise use of our freedom keeps us free.

 

Sunday’s gospel, John’s version of Jesus cleansing the temple, gives us an example of Jesus being free to do the right thing, even though others will misunderstand. If he were worried about his reputation or being liked, he never would have upset things as He did. But He was free to do it.

 

What about you? Imagine meeting Jesus on the trail. He asks you to get free from one habit that ensnares you and deprives you of peace. What does He want you to get free from? And then He asks you about one inspired habit you are free to embrace but have not embraced. What is it? What does He have in mind when He says, “You are free do to the right thing here.” And “I understand you.”

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

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Dear All: 

 

Blessings on you and your Lenten adventures! And I hope to see you tomorrow at the morning of recollection and again at next week’s P.J. Anderson concert!


Note: the homily summary has been moved to the bottom of the email...let us know if you like this format better.

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER: 

  • Lenten Traditions – Has it been a while since you ramped up your Lent with some of our more traditional prayer experiences? 

    • Daily Rosary – For those who like to pray the Rosary, think of joining the 8:35 gang. Several of the Mass regulars pray the Rosary before daily Mass, Monday through Saturday.

    • Stations of the Cross – Has it been a while since you have prayed the stations? Maybe you haven’t tried it yet? The stations provide an inspired way to focus on Jesus’ passion, the all-time greatest expression of love. We pray the Stations on Fridays – at 9:00 am and 7:30 pm. 

  • Confessions – No time like Lent to make an extra trip to confession, even if you don’t need a haircut! Come to the Reconciliation Room on Saturdays between 4:00 and 4:25 OR make an appointment to see me OR come to the Parish Reconciliation Service on Tuesday, March 20.

  • Jesus’ response to those who arrested him — Of this week’s passages in our Little Black Books, this morning’s was especially thought-provoking and prayer-provoking. Was Jesus more angry or hurt in Mark 14: 47-49? And how are to perceive his experience of being misunderstood?

  • Lenten change of habit? How goes it? Whether you are picking up an inspired habit or putting down an uninspired one, are you noticing God’s desire for you to succeed? Best blessings with your adjustments.

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer —Our book provides only five scripture passages to contemplate this week. Do what you can to pray through them extra slowly and with heightened focus on Jesus and his experience and his dilemmas. You will be glad you did.

  • Sunday’s Homily – “JCBFF Part Two: He leads us up the mountain.”

    • 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:

  • P.J. Anderson is gearing up for his trip to Millstone! Our favorite Nashville artist is making ready for his concert here at 7 pm on Friday March 10. P.J.s concerts provide a great night of entertainment for people of all ages. The concert is free and donations of all sizes are encouraged. This year, P.J. will be joined by our own Mike DeLucia! Our parish has three Mike DeLucia’s – the one at the concert will be the 40-something guy who entertained us so lavishly at the Parish Picnic in September.

  • Congratulations and the heartiest and holiest of welcomes to our newest parishioners: Ann Getty, George and Marilyn Keelty, Charles and Indira McDonough, Robert and Laura Mechler and their children Andrew and Jenna, and Eleanor Ogin. May your time in this parish be a time of great grace in which you find deep experiences of Christ’s peace, happiness and light

  • Our perennially popular Fish Fry is Friday March 23. And yes, the Irish Step Dancers will return! Mark your calendars. 

  • This Wednesday, March 7 is the first Wednesday of March. That means we will have our usual First Wednesday Gathering after the 8:35 Mass. All are welcome. If you not yet been to a First Wednesday and you are free on Wednesday morning, please join the gang.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Great thanks to all who are organizing and contributing to the Feeding Hands Ministry project. We ran out of brown paper bags last weekend, but more will be available at all Masses this weekend. The project provides a meaningful way to assist our nearby brothers and sisters in need.

  • Operation Rice Bowl is also in full swing. The Rice Bowl project offers a particularly helpful way for young families to think through the connections between those who have plenty and those who have less – and to come to the aid of those who have less.

  • Check out the Moses Table this weekend for more information about our revitalized Guatemala Ministry. The ministry leaders are as dedicated as ever and eager to receive your help.

With special blessings for all who are amping up their prayer, service, and community-building this Lent. May God reward your extra efforts in prayer and in good habits with great consolations.

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

“JCBFF Part Two: He leads us up the mountain.”

 

Sunday’s Transfiguration gospel describes a mountaintop revelation. Throughout the Bible, moments of great revelation frequently occur at high altitudes. In the Transfiguration revelation, God gives Peter, James, and John a breathtaking understanding of Jesus’ relation to the law and to the prophets, his relation to the Father and his relation to the disciples. Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount depicts another mountainside revelation. The Great Commission and the Ascension occurred on a mountain and so did the Centurion’s profession “Truly, this was the Son of God.” Mountains are places of privileged revelation.

 

Sunday’s passage from Genesis, the mountaintop testing of Abraham, concludes with God’s mindboggling revelation to Abraham, “I will bless you and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants will take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth will find blessing, because you obeyed my command.” Again, the location of this great revelation lines up with other great revelations: God speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, God speaking to Elijah on Mount Horeb, God speaking to Noah on Mount Ararat. Throughout the Bible, God takes special people up the mountain to share special revelations.

 

Jesus still does that. He still gives us “mountaintop” experiences of revelation. They need not occur at high altitudes and they need not involve unusual phenomena. The revelations generally come in the form of quiet illuminations about him or about ourselves in relation to him. They give us little surges of faith, hope or charity. They enable us to soften our views of others. They increase our virtue and dial down our less holy impulses. 

 

What about you? Do you notice patterns in your consolations? Those moments that enlighten your soul and lift your heart, do they seem to occur in certain places or circumstances? At Mass? In other forms of prayer? While listening to certain musicians or reading certain authors? Are there special places or relationships in your life where you become particularly available to God’s quiet lights of insight and serene dependence on God. These are surely the mountains to which Jesus is calling you. Are you saying “yes?” Are you showing up and paying attention? He is more devoted to us than anyone. He wants what is best for us. He continues to call us up the mountain. 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - February 23, 2018

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This week – February 16, 2018

 

Dear All: 

 

Blessings on you and your next steps for Lent! 

 

This Week in Prayer

  • Stations of the Cross – Has it been a while since you have prayed the stations? Is it a prayer experience you haven’t yet tried? Check it out. Fridays in Lent – at 9:00 am and 7:30 pm – led by some of our kindest people. 

  • Our “Little Black Books” (LBBs) Thanks to all who have mentioned that our parish-wide effort to pray the LBBs in Lent is worth the six minutes. The story of Sister Blandina and Billy the Kid grabbed me even more than did the story of Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ (about whom I’d already learned a good deal).

  • Working on a habit for Lent?. How is it going? If you are undertaking a good new habit for Lent, have you imagined what success will look like? And if you are trying to shake off a bad old habit, are you accepting help from people who might provide it?

  • Best blessing for those who are “Meeting Christ in Prayer.” This week’s passages are custom made for “applying the senses” and “composing the place.” And those three phrases from our talk time last week? Hypostatic union, high Christology, and low Christology. If reflection on the terms takes you to inspired places, reflect on them. If they give you a true headache, stay away!

  • Congratulations to all who made their First Reconciliations on Tuesday night. You were very well prepared and so many of you were all dressed up and looked great for church! Good for you.

Sunday’s Homily – “JCBFF Part One: He never gives up on us.”

 

Sunday’s bit from the Noah Story suggests that there was a time when our sin broke the proverbial camel’s back when we were so horrible that God gave up on us. But that suggestion is problematic. Because the story is in the bible, we regard it as inspired. But we also remember that our ancestors in the faith did not create the story. It comes to us from the people of Mesopotamia who wrote the “Gilgamesh Epic.” We borrowed heavily from non-Jewish sources and mixed it in with Jewish flourishes. Also, and more importantly, at the end of the story, God promises that he will never again give up on us. He will never again write us off or agree to destroy us. The rainbow is his signature on that agreement.

 

The very life of Christ tells us anew “God will never give up on you.” The Father sent the Son precisely because “He so loved the world.” He would not have sent the Son if He thought we were a lost cause. Christ’s words and actions remind us that He too has a never-ending commitment to us. In Sunday’s Gospel, when Jesus tells us to “Repent,” He is telling us that he believes in us. He trusts that we can do what is right. He believes we have what it takes. He knows that we can make better choices. If he had given up on us, he wouldn’t have wasted his time urging us to repent. He believes in you.

 

What makes you forget that? What evidence do the fallen angels wave in your face? What is their favorite way of persuading you that you are a lost cause? That God has given up on you? Do they get you to think over and over about your little sins? Your big ones? Do they remind you of the ways life is tough and say “See there, if God cared, you’d be better off. He no longer cares about you.” The vicious angels know how to work on us. They want us to think the rainbow applies to everyone but us. What is their favorite way of working on you? Of discouraging you to the point that you stop trying? Of reaching the conclusion – explicit or implicit – that God has given up on you. 

 

Whatever their strategy, remember, when they troop out their lies, there is only one reply “Get behind me Satan.”

 

 

This Week in Community

  • Our fourth annual P.J. Anderson Concert is fast approaching. The concert is at 7:30 pm on Friday March 10. P.J.s music is a great blend of Nashville and gospel and makes for a great night of family prayer and entertainment. This year, P.J. will be joined by our own Mike DeLucia! (Our parish has three Mike DeLucia’s – the one at the concert will be the 50-something guy who entertained us so lavishly at the Parish Picnic in September.)

  • The Fish Fry is Friday March 23. And yes, the Irish Step Dancers will return! Mark your calendars. 

This Week in Service

  • Come one Come all who are part of any parish ministry – to the Morning of Recollection for people in ALL PARISH MINISTRIES – on Saturday, March 3.  The talk will focus on Christ’s seven Last Words, and how, in your ministry, you answer the invitations those words convey. The food will be excellent and it is a great time to connect with fellow ministry members. (PSSSSSST – The signup deadline was Tuesday and we are close to capacity but let me know if you want to come.)

  • The Parish Spring Cleaning is the morning of March 24. Mark your calendars.

  • BRAVO for our knitters. You knit a total of . . . . drum roll please . . . 123 scarves for us to provide to the Veterans Administration for distribution to veterans who need them. Fantastic work!

  • Pick up your bag from the Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes this weekend for our Feeding Hands Pantry collection

  • The annual Lenten Rice Bowl Project is underway being hosted by the Delisi 7th grade confirmation class. Take a Rice Bowl Box and placemat and bring it to your dinner table. It’s a great opportunity to pray and fast as a family, and discuss the issues of hunger.

With special blessings for all who are amping up their prayer, service, and community-building this Lent. May God reward your extra efforts in prayer and in good habits with great consolations.

 

Fr Hank 

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

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This week – February 16, 2018

Dear All: 

Christ’s Peace! 

 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

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

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

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

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

    • Stay tuned for the upcoming Prayer to Saint Joseph.

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

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

Sunday’s Homily
 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

This Week in Community

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

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

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

This Week in Service
 

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

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

    • 120 – Flowers distributed to Avalon residents and staff

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

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

    • 85 – Encouraging notes in Library Books

    • 60 – Reassuring notes in Mailboxes

    • 120 – Quarters left for laundromat patrons

    • 116 – Hidden gifts around town 

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

    • 300 – Cards/notes of encouragement

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany.

 

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

 

This Week in Prayer 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

With all best blessings for 2018.

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

    God (Dec. 24)

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

They sometimes complicate rather than simplify our lives. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

With love, thanks and admiration, 

 

Fr Hank

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

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Dear All: 

 

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

 

This Week in Prayer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

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

 

This Week in Prayer 


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

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

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

Homily for the First Sunday in Advent

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

May Advent be a time of great blessing for you.

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

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

 

This Week in Prayer

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  • Discernment, Consolation, and Desolation

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

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

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

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

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

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

 

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All:
 

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

 

This Week in Prayer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

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

 

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

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

 

Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord,

And may perpetual light shine upon them

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

This Week in Prayer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

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

 

 

This Week in Community

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

This Week in Prayer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

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

 

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

This Week in Prayer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

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

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

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

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Christ’s Peace!

 

This Week in Prayer

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

This Week in Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Service

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

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

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

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

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

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank