This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - January 25, 2019


This Week – January 25, 2019

Dear All:

The Pasta Dinner has been rescheduled for next Friday – February 1.

Greatest thanks to the Knights and to the Parish Staff for managing the situation so adroitly and amicably. They are a dream team.

And I am innocent! As hard as I prayed for the grace to figure out how NOT to miss the dinner, I did not ask the Good Lord to sabotage the building – to burst one pipe or clog another. But things being as they are, I very much look forward to joining you at the dinner next Friday. I am scheduled to return from retreat on Thursday.


  • Retreat – I hope you don’t mind if the prayer part of this week’s THIS WEEK includes a bit about my prayer/retreat. Although I am only 40 hours into it, I am loving it. Other than getting this “THIS WEEK” to you, I am pretty much completely unplugged. As always, I started retreat with confession and I stumbled into a great confessor here. (N.B. – No, I do not plan to get my haircut down here. Retreat is the one exception to the haircut/confession deal.) This retreat house offers great places for each day’s meditations. Many of the places offer views of salt water and sailing vessels. Already, I am a bit surprised by the direction the Lord seems to be pointing me. It is a bit difficult to explain but it has something to do with a never-before-seen connection between a favorite Psalm, a favorite passage in Mark, the words of the consecration, and the amazing grace of being at St. Joe’s. Last thing, my retreat reading, for the times in between meditations, is Gerhard Lohfink’s “Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was.” Glad I saved it up for retreat. Please send up a good prayer for me.

  • Sacrament of the Sick – Just another friendly reminder, please do not wait to request the Anointing of the Sick for yourself or a loved one. Catch me after Mass and we can get right to it or arrange for me to visit your loved one. God wants you to be at peace and this sacrament helps that happen in times of illness and injury.

Sunday’s Homily – January 20 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, “Getting Back on the Horse”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily (and access to past homilies), click here.

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


  • Ministry Recruiting – Our ministry recruiting season will occur in Lent this year. Suzanne Kral, parish liaison to all ministries, has invited all ministry leaders to sign up for a recruiting station. We have 2 or 3 slots remaining for the recruiting season. If you would like to claim one of the available tables, email Suzanne at 

  • Ministry Morning of Recollection – Mark your calendars. People involved in every parish ministry are invited to the annual morning of recollection on Saturday, March 16. The morning provides time for reflection on your ministry and it also provides an excellent opportunity to connect with the many parishioners who share your ministry. 

  • The Caregivers’ Morning of Recollection – The date for the Spring morning of recollection has been set for Saturday, March 9. If you are helping provide that extra TLC for a loved one in a tough patch, be sure to join us. It is good for people performing these labors to laugh, learn and pray together. Eating together is also good. 

  • St. Timothy Award - Congratulations to two of our high school teens who received the Diocese of Metuchen’s St. Timothy Award. Chris Cusack and Christina Androulakis have been key members of our youth group and are involved in myriad ministries and service work in our parish. We are blessed to have them in our parish and happy that Bishop Checchio is honoring them on Saturday at a special mass celebrating World Youth Day.


  • Our Government Shutdown – The shutdown makes life difficult for many government employees and for the many who work for government contractors. If the government shutdown has put you in a difficult financial position, please Contact Michelle Laffoon in our Social Concerns office. Your parish is praying for you and might be able to help you a little with your highest priority bills. While it won’t pay a bill, the youth group would also like to offer you a homemade turkey pot pie. 

  • Blessings for Our Newest Parishioners – The Good Lord continues to bless us with new parishioners. May all of the new parishioners find here a true spiritual home and even deeper awareness of Jesus’ love and Jesus’ call. Welcome to all of our newest community members:

    • Dan Calabrese    

    • James and Mary Castro

    • John and Nadya Furnari and their children Isabella and Alexander

    • Daniel and Jill Gleeson and their children Daniel and Cameron

    • Rashad and Stephanie Hix and their children Qua’sheed and Jackson

    • Arthur and Nancy Leo

    • John and Sharon Liszczak

    • Lauren Yackowski and her children Matthew and Caitlin

  • Dates to Mark:

    • Our Annual Pasta Dinner – ONCE AGAIN – IT IS NOW ON FRIDAY FEBRUARY 1.

    • Calling all Married Couples – “All You Need Is Love” – Saturday, February 16 – at the 4:45 Mass with dinner and a party afterwards, a celebration of marriage for all our married couples. Recall last year’s reception after the 11:30 Mass on Valentine’s Day? This celebration will be that excellent but different. Plan to be there. And make sure you do the paper frame thing for your wedding pictures.

    • Trivia Night ― Friday, April 5th. Do you think you know it all? Come and prove it at our first adult Trivia Night fundraiser for Catholic Heart Workcamp and our young adult service trip. Tables of 8 will compete for some great prizes! More details to follow.

I almost forgot to mention at the top of the page, the Passionists no longer eat standing up. A bunch of them chuckled when I asked about that tradition and if it really happened or maybe I was going delusional. They assured me they used to eat that way. They still have the “dining shelves” in parts of the refectory!

With gratitude for the time away, gladness at the prospect of returning, and all best blessings.

Fr Hank 

 January 20 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Getting Back on the Horse”

Who among us has not felt a little confused, bewildered or befuddled in our relationship with Jesus? Is it too far a stretch to regard the unsettling spiritual moments as “inevitable?” And if such sad spiritual experiences are unavoidable, then isn’t it also true that each of us faces moments when we must decide whether to “get back on the horse that threw us?”

Sunday’s Gospel (John 2) about the wedding at Cana suggests that even the Blessed Mother had to make that choice. The depletion of the wedding wine would have been a mortifying embarrassment to the host. In order to prevent that embarrassment – at least that is what a good chunk of our tradition says motivated our lady – she asked Jesus to help. The request seems innocent enough and understandable.

But how did Jesus reply? “Woman, how does your concern affect me?” Both parts of that reply, the “Woman” part and the “your concern” (i.e., not mine) part, come across as more than a little abrasive. Scripture scholars over the centuries have tried to explain Jesus’ words as a friendly rejoinder but their efforts have faltered. Perhaps it is best to treat it as distancing and probably unsettling for Mary.

Given all that, Mary’s reply seems to be another Cana miracle. Rather than correct Jesus or distance herself, she expresses pure faith in him, telling the waiters “Do whatever he tells you.” That faith-filled reply offers a great example of someone getting right back on the spiritual horse that threw her. Jesus seems a little distant and she makes the choice she would have made anyhow.

What about you? You have had rough spiritual moments that have made you wonder about God’s love, and you got back on your spiritual horse. Despite the disappointment or confusion, you continued to make inspired choices. You didn’t deny the disappointment, but neither did you let it stop you. Everyone who has lived through the death of a child and still goes to church has done that. Everyone who has labored and prayed fervently for a particular outcome and then not received it – and still prays – has done that. When you have felt rejected by God or the church and have continued to bless God and the church, you have gotten back on your spiritual horse. You have, like Mary at Cana, participated in one of Cana’s less-known miracles – the miracle of perseverance. When have you done just that and who might need to hear your story, not just the victory part, but the part about feeling dismissed by God and ready to ditch the horse?

And the other miracle? The horses just keep on coming. It seems that whenever we feel spiritually pummeled, God provides an opportunity for us to re-profess our faith. God provides horse after heavenly horse for us to get back on. What is your story?