Happy Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Today we celebrate the truth that Jesus transformed an instrument of humiliation into the locus of our salvation. The feast reminds us that every time we “take up the cross” in accord with Christ’s hopes, we are imitating him and stepping toward his glory.
This Week in Prayer
Sunday’s readings, like last week’s, remind us how hard it can be to love the tough customers. Jesus asks us to love even those who make it hard to do so. The obstinately self-destructive ones present a particularly thorny challenge. What are we to do when people we love insist on pursuing ruinous choices? Sunday’spassages remind us of the answer: We always love them and hope and pray for what is best for them EVEN AFTER we must admit that we are powerless to change their choices.
Sunday’s first reading comes from Ezekiel 33. It is part of the fourth of the book’s five sections. In it, God reminds Ezekiel to do everything he can to turn the people away from their wickedness – i.e., from their inclination to worship false gods. Ezekiel will be in big trouble if he fails to admonish the people. But God tells Ezekiel that the people might not listen. The prophet’s best efforts might not turn the people from idolatry. That is not Ezekiel’s issue: “If you warn the wicked . . . and he refuses to turn . . . you shall save yourself.” Do your best Ezekiel and admit it when you cannot change them.
Sunday’s gospel comes from Matthew’s 18th chapter. Some refer to that chapter as “the book of church order” because, in it, Matthew proposes solutions to problems that disrupted the early church. One such problem was the tendency of church members to cling to rotten habits. According to Matthew, Jesus provides very specific instructions about redirecting offenders. Start with a one-to-one conversation. If that doesn’t work, bring in a few pals and, if that flops, engage the whole church. After you have tried all these things, if the person still will not hang up his proverbial cleats, pray for the person (see the second paragraph of Sunday’s gospel) and admit you yourself cannot change him. The message is a little like “Shake the dust from your feet” and “Know when to fold ‘em.”
The obstinate pursuit of self-destructive habits takes many forms. Sometimes it involves substance abuse. It can also involve terrible forms of recreation, financial irresponsibility, running with wild crowds, and choices that worsen rather than improve physical, mental and spiritual health.
Chances are you know someone who is stuck in lousy choices and needs rescuing. Chances are even better that you know someone who is trying to rescue a loved one from self-destructive choices. Focus on the latter, the would-be rescuer. Might it be appropriate to affirm the rescuer’s inclination to admit his or her inability to persuade the offender to make better choices? Might it be very charitable for you to remind the would-be rescuer that Ezekiel and even Jesus faced moments when they could not prevail on obstinate self-destructors to change direction? Of course, we are called to keep loving the self-destructors. That does not mean God expects us to rescue them. They must choose peace.
Attention Ladies! Our highly recommended bible study for women – Walking with Purpose (WWP) – starts its new season on October 2nd. Watch for information in the bulletin and the Gathering Space.
- Listen to this week's readings and homily
- Bishop Checchio's Homily (9/9)
- Fr. Hank's Comments (9/9)
- Fr. Hank's Homily (9/10)
- Read last Sunday's readings
- Read the coming Sunday's readings
This Week in Community
Last weekend was one for the record book. Boundless thanks to all who made it happen. Thanks to all who labored mightily to make the installation Mass as beautiful as it was. Thanks too to all who joined the celebration and to all who shared such kind thoughts.
The Parish Picnic was, by all accounts, a record-breaker in terms of attendance. Once again, enormous thanks to all who put it together. Thanks first and foremost to the Knights of Columbus who demonstrated once again their unparalleled ability to throw a party/ food-fest. You guys are priceless. Thanks to the staff and all the volunteers who helped the Knights set up and then take down the party. Thanks to Mike DeLucia (the younger) for the music and to the Youth Group for the face-painting and the ice-cream. A special shout-out to the new parishioners who displayed their gold badges and thanks to Gail Bellas and Anna Maria Realbuto and co for welcoming the new folk. Thanks to Bob Ward for the magic show and thanks to all who finished behind me in the croquet tourney! Most of all, thanks to God for giving us our community and that spectacular weather.
Speaking of new parishioners - great thanks to Johanne Mueller, Linda Kenyhercz and Gail Bellas for their superb efforts, over many years, to welcome new parishioners. As of next month, we will alter the “on-boarding” process in three ways. First, new parishioner welcome and registration packets will be available at all times in the gathering space. Second, new parishioners will be strongly encouraged but not required to participate in a New Parishioner Information session BEFORE they register. Third, we will be recruiting parishioners of longer-standing to serve as “welcomers” to the new folk. Stay tuned for details on these changes. Again, welcome to all new parishioners and thanks to Gail, Linda, and Johanne for the fine work.
God bless all the CCD teachers who start their missions on Tuesday. May your experience be terrifically rewarding and great fun. And God bless the CCD students. May it be a fine year of becoming even more of the priests, the prophets and the kings God calls you to be.
Remember Veterans – Mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor you. Keep on the lookout for more information in October.
Work on the Hospitality Room and St. Francis garden are on track for the St. Francis day celebration. If you are a gardener and are dividing plants, the garden could use sedum (all strains), Montauk daisies, and any other low-maintenance plants that reach their peaks around St. Francis day (10/4).
Attention all parishioners, but especially who love Francis of Assisi – please join the 8:35Mass group for the October 4 Mass and rededication of the Hospitality Room and St Francis garden.
Calling all St Francis fans and all Music lovers – Come to church on Sunday, October 15 at 7:30 pm to hear the diocesan festival choir’s Taize concert. Not familiar with Taize? It’s a wonderful back-and-forth chant way of praying and singing. The music reflects themes found in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si' (On Care of Our Common Home). I will be giving a brief reflection on the encyclical. And the really great news – the youth group will be selling hot dogs in the parish hall before the concert. This is especially great news for those who attend the 6:00 pm Mass and want to go to the concert.
This Week in Service
Greatest thanks to all who made the Caregivers’ morning of reflection so helpful to so many caregivers. The committee covered every detail and supplied some great insight for parish and area caregivers.
Virtus training – will be available on Monday, September 25, at 6:30 pm in the Parish Hall. Sign up here if you are already committed to a ministry that requires Virtus OR if you might be willing to join our “Virtus bullpen” – i.e., folks we can call when we need a Virtus-trained person in the room. Sign-up now!
Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) – If you are involved or thinking of becoming involved, please join us for 8:35 Mass and the information session that follows on Saturday, September 23. The session will include light refreshments and an overview of IHN. RSVP to Sue Calamoneri (firstname.lastname@example.org) .
We will continue to do what we can to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The poor boxes this week and next will go to Catholic Charities in the appropriate areas. This weekend’s special collection will also go to those branches of Catholic Charities.
Once again, heartfelt thanks to all who made last weekend a terrific one. And continued blessings for all the back-to-school folks. The questions for students will continue in front of the church for several weeks. I am most eager to learn more about the aspects of school that are getting you most amped up this season!