This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Dec 21, 2016

December 21, 2016


Dear All: 





  • Are you going to Mass at St. Joe’s this weekend?
  • Can you lift a ten-pound load?
  • Can you round up at least four other people who can lift ten pounds and will be at the Mass you attend?

If you replied “yes” to each question, you qualify. Congratulations. The job will take about five minutes and requires no center-stage appearances or public speaking. You will complete the task at a moment in the Mass when no other ministries are performing their duties – i.e., if you are a reader or an EM you can do it. We just need 15 people at each Mass who can help the ushers perform a simple task. 

If you can round up a team and serve as its contact person, three cheers for you. Please email me ASAP at Please let me know (a) which Mass you will be attending and (b) how many people you have lined up. I need to hear from only one member of each team. As soon as I hear from you I will email the secret job description. (Intrigued yet?) It would be particularly helpful if, in the subject line of the email you identify your Mass time and your team name – e.g., “6:00 Team Smith” or “11:30 Team K of C” or “4:00 Team Main Street Neighbors.” GREAT thanks

This Week in Prayer: Prince of Peace

Difficulties happen. They can disrupt our prayer, our families, our work, our health, our romances, our recreation, our recoveries and every other part of life. Those disruptions have a way of isolating us. They can make us feel like the trouble is “my ordeal” and mine alone. That reaction is completely understandable. It is also dangerous and avoidable. It is dangerous in that it easily prompts choices that deprive us of peace and do little for God’s glory. It is avoidable in that God (and surely some other loving humans) wants to join us in the fracas. A deeper availability to God’s loving involvement enables us to see the rough patch as “our adventure” rather than “my ordeal.” It also leads us to the deeper peace the Prince of Peace wants us to experience. 

In Sunday’s first reading, poor Ahaz couldn’t grasp that truth. Facing invasion by the joined forces of the Northern Kingdom and the Syrians, Ahaz opted not to let God into the solution. Ahaz insisted on treating the threat as “my ordeal” rather than as “our adventure,” i.e., an undertaking shared with God.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Saint Joseph made just the opposite move. He made the inspired move. Mary’s situation troubled him deeply. He loved her deeply and he knew the dangers she faced. Perhaps he was seeing it as “my ordeal” when the angel persuaded him to regard the challenge as “our adventure,” an adventure into which God wanted to be welcomed and in which God wanted to be loving and influential. 

What about you? What difficulty in your life are you currently treating as “my ordeal” while God is asking you to see it as “our adventure?” Which challenge in your life feels like it is too trivial or too egregious for God to manage? Lousy habits? Tough finances? Troubled relationships? Rotten grades? Dark desires? What challenge might give you cause to pray:

Lord Jesus Christ
Prince of Peace
Help me to see my ordeal
As Our adventure.

  • Saturday Morning Mass. The schedule says there is no 8:30 Mass this Saturday morning. OOPS! There really is 8:30 Mass on Saturday, 12/24. The gospel will be the magnificent “Canticle of Zechariah.”
  • Nameless Angels. When you come to church this weekend you will encounter eight magnificent angels. Regrettably, not one of them has yet been named. Please put your ideas in the Communications Box.
  • Udpates. When you come to church this weekend you will also encounter an invitation to enjoy udpates (u-d-p-a-t-e-s, pr: UHD-pates). Please let me know as soon as you encounter one. More to follow.
  • Memorial Hallway. Be sure to stroll the Memorial Hallway to be prayerfully reminded of Jesus’ history.
  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings
  • Read next week's readings


This week in service:

  • The Giving Tree. Try to absorb this news. Through your response to the giving tree, your parish contributed 1,157 gifts to 438 households through nine local agencies (Elder Care, Interfaith Housing Network, Diocese of Metuchen Program for People with Special Needs, Easter Seals of Flemington, Easter Seals of Somerset, Safe and Sound and Carrier Clinic). It couldn’t have happened without the dedicated effort of the parish’s Giving Tree Committee with special help from the Knights of Columbus. Try to imagine the gladness you have brought to these 438 households. Try to imagine Jesus’ reaction.

This week in community:

  • This weekend was another weekend full of soul-warming community gatherings. Thursday night featured 30 members of our youth group baking Christmas cookies to be shared with our special needs community at their dance and at the youth group party. Friday night was, thanks to James Lew and family, Family Movie Night. The turnout was delightful and the movie was great fun. Saturday night was, thanks to Kathy Abuschinow and “Becca’s Friends,” the Christmas Dance for our parishioners with special needs and their friends. We all learned some serious new dance moves. Sunday night, thanks to the youth ministry team, was the Christmas party for the members of the Youth Ministry. Sixty people enjoyed the dinner and hilarity. An inspired weekend.
  • New Banisters. Over the top thanks to Peter Hoefele for the masterful craftsmanship that has gone into the new sanctuary banisters and the choir loft railing. The end product is not only visually uplifting, it enables many of our liturgical ministers to stay active as they now have a rail to hold while ascending and descending the sanctuary steps to read or serve as Eucharistic Ministers.
  • Thanks. Special end-of-year thanks to members of the councils, committees and groups who do so much behind-the-scenes work to keep our parish thriving. Thanks to the members of the Parish Council, the Finance Council, the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the Budget Group, the HR Group, the Tech Group, the Fellowship Committee, the Religious Education and Formation Committee, the Altar and Environment Group, and so many more. You will be hearing from most of these groups early in the new year as they provide progress reports in the parish bulletin.
  • The “Radiate Love Concert” on January 7 will be an excellent night for our community. It is a night of contemporary Christian Music and so much more. It will provide a superb post-holiday spiritual boost for your entire family! 

There will be no “This Week” between Christmas and New Year’s. Meanwhile, I thank you profoundly for the non-stop inspiration you provide as priests, as prophets and as kings. You “got it going on.” May God bless you and your loved ones in both shocking and subtle ways during the holydays and may 2017 be a year of exceptional grace as you enjoy anew your relationship with the risen Christ who is our Wonder Counselor, our God Hero, our Father Forever and our Prince of Peace. May you feel his favor resting on you in marvelous ways.

Love and blessings,

Fr Hank, SJ