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


This Week – November 16, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

A greatly blessed Thanksgiving to every Saint Joe’s parishioner. I hope the blessings include an inspired mix of invigorating activity and restorative stillness as well as an inspired awareness of your blessings.

It will be good to pray together. We will be having low-key Thanksgiving Masses on Wednesday at 5 pm and Thursday at 8:35 am. Join the prayer if you can.

It will also be good to hang out for a bit. The Wednesday evening Mass will be followed by a BYOB in the hospitality room. Think of it as tailgating but indoors, and very informal. It is also BYO everything else, munchies etc. I hope someone remembers to bring a corkscrew this year. There is a microwave in the vicinity if your hors d'oeuvre requires nuking.

Meanwhile, as the adults gather in the Hospitality Room, the Youth Ministry Reunion will be taking place in the Parish Hall. It will be wonderful to have our college students back with us.

Thursday morning after the Thanksgiving Mass will be time for deluxe donuts and coffee, once again in the Hospitality Room.

I hope many will be able to join the prayer and getting-together at church. And whether extra prayer and fellowship is or is not part of your Thanksgiving, may your holiday be excellent.

  • Prayers for Our Deceased Loved Ones – Our Trees of Remembrance keep us mindful of the call to pray extra for our deceased loved ones in the month of November. Continued thanks to MaryAnn Comiskey and all who created the trees. Continued hopes that all of us, especially our young people, will make ample use of our fundamental prayer for our deceased loved ones:

Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. 

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Sunday’s Homily – “Perfection? Part 2: God Loves Our Personal Best”

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

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


  • Our Advent Giving Tree – Our Advent Giving Tree is up and full of tags that are ready to take. Thanks in advance for doing what you can to help people who might otherwise not have much of a Christmas. Giant thanks to the 25 volunteers who have been working for weeks to organize the tree’s 500 tags. N.B. –  The tags labeled “Appalachia” are due back by December 2nd so we can get them to the good recipients in Appalachia. Also, the Appalachia tags that specify items from Walmart really do need to come from Walmart as that is the only store in the area. If exchanges for size are needed, they can be easily done through Walmart.  Last thing, all other tags are due back on December 9th.

  • Our Thanksgiving Food Baskets – You have done a marvelous job of helping our needy neighbors to have a happy Thanksgiving. The Memorial Hallway is FULL of the food you have so kindly contributed. Members of our youth group sorted the baskets tonight and delivering them tomorrow.

  • Becca’s Friends – Last weekend was one for the record book. On Friday night the BF volunteers and participants hosted the 165 people who turned out for “The Arc’s Got Talent.” A terrific night. Then on Saturday night, the same group hosted a dinner for 50. Blessings for all of you.


  • Celebrating our Veterans – Sunday’s 11:30 Mass and the party that followed were exceptional. Thanks and more thanks to all parishioners who have served in our armed forces – and special thanks to all the vets who gave the parish the honor of honoring them on Sunday. Great thanks to the Knights for providing yet another remarkable lunch. And boundless thanks to the incredible crew that produced the event. They thought of everything and then took care of everything – the portraits and the decorations in the gathering space, the flags all around, the boutonnieres, the roll call, the centerpieces in the parish hall, the decorations, the greeters, organizing the gift bags and those who contributed the gifts (the cards from Becca’s Friends, the haircuts from Hillsborough Great Cuts and the prayer cards from the Columbiettes). This group could have gotten Hannibal over the alps in no time flat. It was one superb celebration. 

  • Financial Review – Thanks to the members of the Finance Council and to Bill Strawderman and all who have made our financial reports easy to understand. The audited report for the 2017/18 fiscal year is now posted on our website. The one-page summary will be inserted in the bulletin in a few weeks. The bottom line? Thanks to your generosity, in 2017/18 we were able to pay all our bills (including some major capital expenses) and put a few thousand dollars in the bank.

  • Family Wreath-making for Advent – Eat pizza and make your Advent wreath! Who could want more? Join the fun on Sunday, November 18 from 12:30 – 3:00 PM in the Parish Hall.  

  • PJ Anderson is Returning – Mark your calendar for the return of Nashville recording artist P.J. Anderson. P.J. will be here to lead us in song and fun on Friday, November 30. See you there. 

I will once again be having Thanksgiving dinner at the Cracker Barrel in Lancaster PA. The dinner satisfies my extravagant tastes in food but, far more importantly, it means I get to spend time with Ralph, a fellow I used to coach in Special Olympics Sailing, and Debbie, his amazing mom. Lancaster is sort of halfway between Millstone and their home. The drives to and from Lancaster, with the window open and the radio off, provide a great chance to count many of life’s greatest blessings. You top the list. I am immensely grateful for the privilege of sharing this adventure with you. 

Some of the drivetime will surely be spent dwelling on you as priests/people-of-prayer with whom I share the gladness of celebrating Mass and the sacraments. I could spend 100 miles recalling great graces in daily Mass with the 8:35 Club, or the lights generated in Meeting Christ in Prayer and the Spiritual Exercises, or the delight of the dozens of women in Working with Purpose. Then again, there is all the goodness of the people who take communion to the homebound and the nursing homes and those who provide the beautiful funerals week after week. And that is just the start.

Some of the drive time will be spent smiling about the ways you are prophets who console and challenge others. Even as I prepare to hit “send” on this week’s THIS WEEK, I am aware of folks in the parish kitchen cooking eight turkeys for Elijah’s Promise on Sunday, of the group heading into the gathering space to trim the Giving Tree, of the Youth Group arriving to take care of the food baskets, and again, that is just tonight’s list.

Your lives as kings/community-builders will also take many miles to contemplate. I get to recall all the greetings you share before and after every Mass. I get to recall our first-rate fellowship events, including the Parish Picnic and the many other events when the Knights feed us so well. I get to recall the many ways in which we strengthen the connections that make us a stronger community of Jesus’ friends.

Wow. Now that I start to get specific about all the gifts to count, I am thinking maybe I should drive a little further. (I just checked; Cracker Barrel does not operate in Juneau. Hmmm.)

Either way, all best blessings and thanks to each of you for giving me so many blessings to count and, more importantly, for giving each other so many blessings to count, and for making God smile.

Father Hank

Summary of November 11 Homily:
Perfection? Part 2: God Loves Our Personal Best

What are we to do when we hear God calling us to be perfect? What about those passages in scripture that set the bar at great and oh-so-discouraging heights? Do we give up? Do we pretend? Give it a try? Go to plan B?

November’s readings give us some great recommendations. They invite us to wonder about our approaches to perfection. Two weeks ago, the readings suggested that progress toward perfection, even though we will never get there in this life, delights God. This week’s readings remind us that God asks us only for our personal best. God knows how easily the perfect becomes the enemy of the very good. Personal best matters.

The widow of Zarephath gave her personal best and it delighted God (1 Kings 17). Elijah landed in Zarephath hungry and tired and looking for help. The drought and the famine that ravaged the land made helpers hard to find. But the widow rose to the occasion. She gave Elijah something to drink and a piece of bread. Her kindness thrilled Elijah and God. God rewarded her personal best with survival: “She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty,nor the jug of oil run dry.” Notice, the Zarephath widow did not host a lavish dinner. It was beyond her means. She provided a cup of water and a piece of bread. Her personal best gladdened God.

The widow in Sunday’s gospel (Mark 12) participated in a similar dynamic. She gave what she could and her effort consoled Jesus greatly. While people with high incomes made a big production out of their contributions, the widow gave as much as she could and sought no attention. Jesus told his disciples that she – a widow who, in ancient Israel would have had no meaningful income stream – outperformed all the others. Her personal best also gladdened God.

What about you? When have you experienced the happiness of knowing you had offered your personal best? You have surely done that in many ways – in sports, in academics, at work, as a mom, as a dad, as a devoted child, as an unswerving caregiver. Just about every one of those ways is the work of a priest (a person of prayer), as prophet (a person who challenges and consoles others) and/or as king (a person who builds up the community)? When have you felt God nudging you to up your game? To offer something closer to your personal best? To take a chance on growth in prayer? On growth in service? On growth in community-building? Maybe you were aware that what you had to offer was not going to change the world, was by some measure “imperfect,” but you did it anyhow. And in doing so, you delighted God in the same way the widow of Zarephath and the widow in the temple did. You offered your personal best, and your offering gladdened God greatly. What is your story?