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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 


Christ’s peace!

 

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER  

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 


Christ’s peace!


SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT THE NEW KEYS – 


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

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

 

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

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 

 

Christ’s peace!

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 

 

Christ’s peace!

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

 

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

 

Teilhard’s Preamble to a Prayer for Patience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

    • Nanda Cotturone

    • Louis and Louise Distefano

    • Josephine Giordano

    • Charles and Arlene Jacey

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

    • Arthur McFadden

    • Barry Panzarino and Linda Tancs-Panzarino

    • Elaine Whelan
       

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Trinity Sunday and the Call to Patience

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

When Charity Overpowers Fear

 

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

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

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

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

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

 

 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Jesus’ Names, Part 6: “Protector”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Jesus’ Names, Part 5: “Friend”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

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

 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

  • Ordinations:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

Jesus’ Names, Part 4: “The Vine”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:     

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

 THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Save the Dates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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


Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 THIS WEEK I N PRAYER 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

 

Jesus’ Names, Part 2: “Christ”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

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

unnamed (3).png

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

    • William and Carol Cwieka; 

    • Johnathan and Kimberly Garcia and their son Nolan; 

    • Keith and Jill Giunta and their son Jacob; 

    • Ted and Joanne Givand; 

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

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

    • Chris Pagneth; 

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

    • Michael and Maggie Valenzano and their daughter Olivia.

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

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

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

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

 

Fr Hank 

 

Summary of this Week’s Homily:

 

Jesus’ Names, Part I: “Lord”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

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

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

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

christmas.png

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

unnamed (2).png

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