This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - February 15, 2019


This Week – February 15, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s peace.

The not-so-great news? We did not get the subsidies for the air conditioners or for the lights. We staged a mighty and a well-coordinated effort but the folks who administer the subsidies determined we do not have enough energy-hog lights to qualify for air-conditioner subsidies. A bit confusing, I know, but so it goes. The people with whom we interacted have been very helpful and kind. Special thanks to Paulette Matis for playing QB for our efforts. It has involved a load of paperwork and Paulette coordinated it masterfully. Fortunately, we are in a financial position to fund the needed improvements but doing so means we will have to postpone other important work. We thank God for the gifts given and continue to explore every opportunity to save without sacrificing safety or the serenity that the right surroundings provide.


  • First Reconciliations – Three dozen of our youngsters will make their First Reconciliations this Tuesday, February 19 at 7:00 pm. Please say a prayer for them as they enter this new phase of their relationship with Jesus, a phase in which they truly know the difference between right and wrong, and in which they know Jesus as the Merciful One who always welcomes those who seek his pardon. Blessings for all who prepared our students for this very important moment.

  • The 8:35 Prayer Lists – One of the many beautiful things about the folks who regularly attend our 8:35 daily Mass (aka the 8:35 Club) is that they really mean it when they say they will pray for someone. Each day before their 8:00 Rosary, they pray out loud for each person for whom prayers have been requested. On Saturday mornings, they recite all those names at the Prayers of the Faithful. It truly is a beautiful experience. If you have a special prayer intention, let me know and I will pass it along to the right 8:35 prayer-person.

  • Stations of the Cross – Have you marked a few Friday nights on your calendar, while Lent is still a few weeks away, so you will have time to pray with the wonderful folk who pray the Stations of the Cross in Lent? And remember there are also opportunities to pray the Stations on Friday mornings after Mass.

  • Your Sunday Prayer Area – Stay tuned for news about how to identify the area where you usually sit for Sunday Masses.

Sunday’s Homily
February 10, 2019 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Challenging, Part 2: Inspired Self-doubt”

  • 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


  • Feeding Hands – The goods continue to arrive at a terrific rate. As of this morning, it seems we will contribute even more than we did last year. Your kindness provides a great boost to our low-income neighbors. Think about how bad it would be not to have toiletries or cleaning supplies. And then think of how grateful you would be to the people who provide them.

  • Ministry Morning of Recollection – Calling volunteers in every ministry! Try to join your fellow volunteers/ministers on Saturday, March 16 for the Parish Ministries Morning of Recollection. The program starts with 8:35 Mass and concludes with lunch. Please RSVP to Suzanne Kral and be sure to tell her the ministry with which you want to spend your morning. You can email Suzanne at It will be good to share the morning.

  • The Caregivers’ Morning of Recollection – If you are helping a friend or relative who needs a bit of extra TLC these days, or if you are a professional caregiver, please join your mission-mates for the Caregivers Morning of Recollection on Saturday, March 9. You can sign up in the Gathering Space during the weekends of February 23/24 and March 2/3. 

  • Random Acts of Kindness – Our High School Youth Ministry's Random Acts of Kindness Day was a huge success. Thanks to every parishioner who supported it. Our teens made 60 bagged lunches for Somerville’s Samaritan Homeless Intervention Program, visited every Avalon resident and gave each a card, candy and a flower from The Flower Barn. Thanks to our Prayer Shawl Ministry, our students were able to give lap blankets and prayer shawls to 15 very appreciative residents. They also paid for several strangers’ coffee and clothes washing with the admonition to “pay it forward.” God bless our teenagers.

  • Sweet Treats and Sentiments ― Huge thanks to Jaqui Seelig's First Grade Class. They made lovely Valentine cards and bagged chocolate treats for members of our church. They shared these with the homebound and the 8:35 Club.


  • All You Need Is Love – At this Saturday’s 4:45 Mass, we will begin our parish celebration of World Marriage day. During the Mass we will pray for all married couples and honor those who are celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries. The sold-out, BYOB frolic begins right after 4:45 Mass. The food, the DJ and the photo booth promise to be great fun, as do the two short rounds of . . . live entertainment. 

  • Where You Sit – How do you describe where you usually sit at the Mass you usually attend?

  • Your Pastor’s Brag – I want to brag all about you to your fellow parishioners who are eager to learn of the good things fellow parishioners do, in all areas of life. So please let me know the good news about parishioners who have done good things (e.g., won an award, succeeded at academics or at sports or at extracurriculars or in service or have done something great at work or in the community). Also, let me know which Mass the person usually attends and the section in which the person usually sits. The section closest to the choir is Section 1. The section behind the servers is Section 7. Email me the news at Be sure to put “PASTOR’S BRAG” in the subject line.

    • Nils Dahl – Nils Dahl (6:00 PM Sunday, Section 2) recently triumphed in the Wodapalooza – one of the world’s most celebrated CrossFit competitions. Nils and his two teammates finished 10th. That’s right, we can brag that our very own Nils’ team is basically tenth in the world. And get this – the nine teams that finished ahead of them are all full-time CrossFit folk; they don’t have day jobs. Nils does. From my perspective, that makes Nils and his teammates the world’s best self-supporting CrossFitters! Congratulations Nils. What a great use of the gifts God has given you. And congratulations to Nils’ wife Amy (Also 6:00 pm Section 2) for enabling it all to happen.

    • Fran Hoh – This week’s Catholic Spirit contains a superb article written by our very own Fran Hoh (6:00 pm, Section 6). The article, “Understanding differences in palliative, hospice care” is great background reading for all and should be required reading for anyone dealing with end-of-life issues. How blessed are we to have Fran among us and willing to help?

With gratitude and all best blessings

Fr Hank 

 Sunday, February 10, 2019 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Challenging, Part 2: Inspired Self-doubt”

As persons baptized to “remain forever a member of Christ who is Priest, Prophet, and King,” every Christian is commissioned to challenge others at the times and in the ways God desires. That means you. That means me. It is part of our “prophet” thing.
Sunday’s readings point out the value of inspired self-doubt, that just-right amount of insecurity that keeps us from becoming puffed-up windbags. Without a touch of insecurity, how easily might we become the cocky know-it-alls Jesus derides rather than the inspired prophets he sends to his beloved. We do not want the uninspired self-doubt that immobilizes or paralyzes us. We want the inspired self-doubt that keeps us attentive to Jesus and kind to others.

Isaiah, one of the greatest prophets ever, seems to have possessed just the right dose of healthy insecurity. Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 1) describes the supernatural scene in the temple in which Isaiah said “Yes” to God’s call. But before saying “Yes,” amid earthquakes and great clouds of smoke, he expressed self-doubt, telling the Lord “I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.” Notice that God does not say “Oh no Isaiah. You are not a man of unclean lips.” God seems rather to agree with Isaiah and then sends a coal-carrying angel to burn Isaiah’s lips clean. Isaiah’s expression of self-doubt is typical of the many biblical figures God calls into service. They are aware of their frailty but not immobilized by it. God seems to like that mix.

Peter makes the same move in Sunday’s Gospel. Just as Isaiah confronted earthquakes, smoke and God’s glory, Peter confronted the miraculous catch of fish. The experience makes him aware of God’s presence. It forces him to his knees and to the declaration "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." Jesus doesn’t argue with Peter’s self-understanding. He simply promises to work with Peter’s limitations. Perhaps Jesus was aware that Peter would succeed most in those moments when he was most aware of his own human frailty and of God’s power flowing through him.

What about you? Who has challenged you in your life? Who has encouraged you to make more inspired choices about your health or your relationships or your studies or your athletic habits or your ways of taking care of others? When you consider the most effective challengers/prophets, perhaps you recall how their humility and empathy gave them credibility and made their challenge to you more appealing? Were they willing to admit they did not have all the answers? Were they at ease with their own human frailty? And what about people who came across as know-it-all windbags who were “often in error but never in doubt?” How much did they help you?

In what circumstances are you following the leads of your most effective prophets? In those relationships in which you are called to offer the challenging word, in which are you doing so as a fellow pilgrim on the way who is aware of your own frailty? In what circumstances are you OK with your limitations and willing to share them with those you challenge? Where are you following the leads of Peter and Isaiah? Where might you be acting a little bit like a puffed-up windbag?

NB – In every mission to challenge others, there is a time for inspired self-confidence, a time for knowing that you have discerned well and are proceeding well. In no mission to challenge others is there a time for the arrogance that alienates others and depletes our sense of dependence on God.