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

Dear All:

It’s time for pasta and wine tasting! (See below)

This Week in Prayer

How many times a day do we think or say “I want” something? Some of those “I wants” are so familiar we no longer notice them: “I want coffee,” “I want to get to school on time,” “I want a good parking space,” “I want to get to bed at a reasonable hour.” Other “I want” statements feel a little bolder: “I want a new job” or “I want this relationship to improve.” Amid all the “I wants,” are several that God has built into our souls. The readings since Easter have highlighted several of those God-given “I wants:”

  • I want to participate in the experience of God’s love and the life of the church, not just observe;

  • I want to understand Jesus more, not just maintain a facile awareness of him;

  • I want to discern the Good Shepherd’s voice, not just reach a conclusion.

This week’s Gospel highlighted another “I want” that God has built into our hearts:

  • I want to feel safe and beautiful.

The first reading, from Acts of the Apostles, pertains to widows, the group that, at the time Acts was written, had many reasons to feel very unsafe. They lacked property rights, reliable income, a voice in legal conflicts, and, in most instances, a home of their own. That Jerusalem sect of extremely vulnerable Christian widows included two groups. Most of the widows spoke Hebrew. A few spoke Greek. The apostles reacted immediately when they learned that the Greek-speaking widows received fewer benefits than the other widows. Bad enough that their widow status should make them feel unsafe. Worse that the discrimination should make them feel something other than cherished, esteemed and beautiful.

The disciples’ speedy response resembles Jesus’. Throughout his public ministry, when he encountered anyone who had reason to feel unsafe or unbeautiful, Jesus sprang into action. He engaged the people with leprosy, the people publicly accused of grave sin, the possessed people and many others who felt threatened or fundamentally ugly. They were always his highest priority and his time with them gave them plenty of reason to feel safe and beautiful.

Sunday’s gospel comes from John’s Last Supper Discourse. It describes a moment when the apostles had many reasons to feel unsafe and unbeautiful. The growing animosity toward Jesus threatened them. Jesus’ talk of leaving could have left them feeling not too cherished or beautiful. Jesus then combats both concerns. In saying “I will come back again and take you to myself,” he gives them cause to feel safe and to feel beautiful and cherished, as always.

 What about you? Who has helped you feel safe and beautiful over the years? Maybe it was your mother? Maybe some other woman or man or friend or teacher or relative or religious? Chances are they leveled with you when you needed it. They were realistic and let you know when you smelled bad, but they also made you feel safe and beautiful. Who has done for you what Jesus did for the mighty and the afflicted throughout his time on earth?

And for whom are you doing that? Who in your life feels more safe and more beautiful because you are who you are and do what you do? Maybe it is a relative who needs extra TLC? Or maybe it is someone who projects complete self-assurance but deep down needs someone to remind them “It’s OK” and “You’re OK.”

  • GREAT blessings for the 23 youngsters who will be making first communion this weekend. It is a great day for the entire church, even the people who don’t know you. Thanks for making your Communion.

  • Thanks to all who made the 6 pm Mass special on Mother’s Day. 

  • The 2018 Mass book is now open. If you want to arrange a Mass intention, stop by the office. So that more people get a chance to arrange Mass intentions, we need to limit the number of intentions to eight per family for the book’s first three months. After that, come back for more.

  • Ascension Thursday is May 25. Check the schedules for holy day Mass times and plan accordingly.

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

This week in service:

  • Our week of hosting the IHN families tilted the grace meter – for the families and for us. Nearly 80 parishioners enabled us to provide a superb experience for the four moms and their nine children who stayed with us. Our collective hats are off to Sue and John Calamonari who served this year, for the first time, as overall program coordinators. Right up there with them are Sid Lentz and Kristen Mazuera who coordinated the overnight hosts and the food, respectively. And of course veteran director Paul Toste was never out of reach. Our project leaders and all the others who helped – cook meals, clean the parish hall, read stories to the kids, change the sheets and perform 101 other duties – created a situation in which those 13 people could feel safe and cherished. What more could God ask? 

  • It has been a great month for Becca’s Friends, our parish social program for adults with special needs.  On May 6 this group celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a DJ, dance and sombrero contest.  Lots of good food was enjoyed.  Amazing cupcakes were made and decorated by Denise Adams.  The program’s next event is an outing to Patriot Stadium on June 18 – to enjoy the amenities of the Community Box!

This week in community:

  • Online CCD registration for next year is up and running. The results have been impressive as we are well ahead of the typical number of registrations for this week in the registration cycle. All families intending to register for next year should do so as soon as possible – to take advantage of the discount for early registration and to enable the program directors to get a jump on planning an even better program for next year.

  • All parents of CCD students and all CCD teachers are encouraged to come to the Parish Hall on Monday, June 22 at 7:30pm, to meet the Loyola publishing representative who will explain our new curriculum.

  • And now for the Pasta and Wine Tasting . . . Don’t miss it. Be sure to bring your own bottle to go along with your dinner AND be ready to sample the available wines. All adults will receive a complimentary ticket at the door to sample four varieties of wine – two red and two white. Parishioners will also have a chance to order their new favorites (minimum order six bottles) through Petrock’s Liquours, one of the evening’s lead sponsors. Petrock’s will then donate 10% of the earnings back to the Knights of Columbus to support parish programs. Last thing about the wine tasting – there will be MUCH Frank Sinatra music for the occasion. See you there! 

  • THE PARISH COOK BOOKS are here. Be sure to pick up yours this weekend. We are selling the books for $5.00 each.  Everyone who contributed one or more recipes should take a free copy.  Every household should also take one home, for free or for a donation of $5 if the spirit moves you. Let’s try to get one copy into every parishioner’s kitchen. Major thanks to Kate Shaughnessy and Joanne Gagliardi for the extensive labor of love it took to get the book from concept to print. And thanks to all who contributed recipes.

  • Have you already signed up for the St. Joe’s leg of the Hillsborough Triple Crown of 5ks – “I Run Hillsborough". Invite your running friends and relatives to run Hillsborough and feel the holy burn. There is a 5K run, a 1 mile walk and an opportunity to be a "virtual" participant (all options get you the awesome 2017 shirt!)

  • Be sure to check out the signup sheets in the gathering space for the Patriots Ministry

I send this with best blessings for you and with a request for your prayers as I head off to retreat on Sunday afternoon. Truth is, it is really the first half of the retreat – as Jesuits are expected to make 8 days of retreat each year and I can only get away for four. I will come back with a request for prayers for the second half later this summer. But pray anyhow!

Fr Hank.