This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - March 29, 2019


This Week – March 29, 2019

Dear All:  

Christ’s Peace!

Thank you for responding so very generously to last weekend’s request to learn more of your fold-mates’ names. For some, it is a real chore and I very much appreciate your generosity. For others, it is an excuse to do what they have wanted to do for a while. For still others, it is redundant as they already know the names of most of their pew-mates, fold-mates, and Mass-mates! Thanks to all.

Remember to bring your cards to church this weekend. The longer-term hope is to have most people know the names of most of their regular pew-mates and fold-mates. Why? Three main reasons – to help welcome new parishioners (more on that later), to let me know if someone is missing (though Gladys-Kravitzing is strictly prohibited), and to enrich your experience of Mass. Again, thanks.

I hope you run into many of your pew-mates, fold-mates, Mass-mates and Parish-mates at Rea’s Praise and Worship Concert on Saturday and at next Friday’s Trivia night.


  • Parish Penance Service – I hope to see many of you on Tuesday at 7:30. Once again, we blocked out all the mean priests and only nice priests will be here to hear confessions. Feel the grace of the sacrament.

  • Confirmation Retreat – Please pray for our confirmandi (plural of “confirmandus,” i.e., one who is to be confirmed). Our 65 confirmation students, mostly eighth-graders, began their preparation with the Rite of Enrollment at the start of 7th grade. The training will reach a major milestone when they complete the Rite of Covenant at Saturday’s 4:45 Mass. Before coming to Mass, they will have spent the day making their confirmation retreat. After that Mass, they will enjoy Rea’s evening of Praise and Worship. We are proud of all of them and of those who have brought them to this moment.

  • Monday Evening Mass – It was once again very good to celebrate Mass with many of you on Monday evening. There will be Monday evening Masses this week (April 1) and the following week (April 8). There is no evening Mass on Monday of Holy Week as that is the time of the Chrism Mass.

  • The Little Black Books (LBBs) – Thanks to the many who keep me posted on their favorite passages. I am all ears when you are filling me in. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Stations of the Cross – Blessings for all who are praying the Stations. Whether you come every week (morning or evening), or only once, your presence is a blessing. The turnout has been very impressive.

Sunday’s Homily 

March 24, 2019 – Third Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 3: “Our Trespasses?”

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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


  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) – Great blessings for the many parishioners who are, this week, helping to staff the IHN visitors at our much-loved neighbor, Hillsborough Reformed Church. Our parishioners are helping to host seven people who don’t have homes -- two moms and their five children. We have people cooking the dinners, staying overnight and doing all the work that helps the homeless among us trust in God’s love and find their way forward.

  • Prayer Shawls by the boatload! – Our knitting and crocheting groups are out-knitting themselves. They now have SIXTY afghans to deliver to our beloved homebound parishioners and to folks who live in long-term care facilities.

  • Ministry Recruiting – Bravo for the many parishioners who are committing to new ministries. The turn out has been inspiring. Several of our parish’s social ministries have experienced great interest. The liturgical ministries and the community ministries are also feeling the support. Good for all of you. This week there will be recruiting for: 

    • ALTAR SERVERS – we could use a few more, especially at the 4:45 and the 9:30 

    • INTERFAITH HOSPITALITY NETWORK – always good to have greater bench strength for this one – though it requires help only 3 times each year 

    • THE PARISH MEALS MINISTRY – to help our parishioners when they run into a rough patch – medically or otherwise 

    • SENIOR RESIDENCE EUCHARISTIC MINISTRY – the folks who bring communion to the nursing homes on Sundays and sometimes other days – a beautiful ministry.


  • Seven New Names – Right – the longer-term goal is to learn the names of all of your regular pew-mates and fold-mates and many of your Mass-mates. For now, you should be very pleased with yourself if you learn 7 new names this Lent. BIG CAVEAT – in the world of name-learning, there is only one major sin – to put someone on the spot. PLEASE offer your name at the first indication that the other is having a hard time coming up with your name. Good manners = Good Christianity! 

  • The Evening of Praise and Worship – The concert/retreat we have all been waiting for is this Saturday. After the 4:45 Mass, the Youth Group will be selling stadium food for dinner. You can go right from Mass to dinner to the Evening of Praise and Worship without ever going out in the rain. Hope to see you there.

  • Trivia Night – It is a terrifically promising night of fun for all big kids (i.e., those already confirmed) and adults. The proceeds will help support the dozens of young parishioners who will be spending a week of this summer on one of the two parish service trips – our college students will be working in Texas and our high-school students will be working in Pennsylvania. If you assemble eight friends for a whole table, great. But no need to worry about having a whole table. We welcome folks who come solo or with a friend or two. 

  • SAGES MINISTRIES – Our “Sages Ministry,” our new parish ministry to identify and address the pastoral, spiritual, educational and recreational aspirations of our wisest parishioners (i.e., 55+) is off to a rollicking great start. The first go-round of programs begins right after Easter. Each of these most promising gatherings is on a Wednesday (the least active day of the week) from 2-4 pm (the least engaged time of day): April 24, old comedy clips; May 8, wine and painting (ZERO talent required); May 22, daytime game night, and; June 5, activities fair (learn more and voice preferences about upcoming programs). BE THERE.

  • A Parish Columbarium? – We have several more hurdles to get over before we can make any promises, but we are still exploring plans for a parish columbarium (like a mausoleum but only for cremains/ashes). Let me know if this prospect interests you. 

Your Pastor’s Brag – This week its all about our fleet-footed young people

  • A mind-boggling marathon – Remember the horrible stories about the Bataan Death March? Get this, Josie Greenwood (4:45 S6), a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, is also an Army Cadet. She and 14 members of her troop recently completed a grueling 26 mile march across the White Sands missile range in New Mexico to honor the victims of the march.  Josie and her march-mates completed the trek while carrying 35-pound rucksacks. Go Josie!

  • High School Runners – Congratulations to Peter Cavanaugh (9:30 S2) and to Nicole La Mastro (4:45 S1) for their great athletic achievements. Peter was honored for running the 800 meter in 2 minutes and 4 seconds. Talk about fleet foot. Nicole was named Rookie of the Year. Thanks to both of you for the great example of wonderful use of the gifts God has given you.

Please email me some of the good news you know about parishioners for “The Pastors Brag.” 

With gratitude and all best blessings and hopes to see you at the Night of Praise and Worship.

Fr Hank

March 24, 2019 – Third Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 3: “Our Trespasses?”

Who wouldn’t rather confess someone else’s sins? I notice the tendency in confession, both when I am the confessor and when I am the confessee! In discussing the context for a particular sin, how easy is it to drift into meanderings about others’ sins. How easy is it to make a similar move when we pray “forgive us our trespasses”? Perhaps we are calling them “our trespasses” but thinking mostly of “their trespasses.” Sunday’s readings invite each of us to take a closer look at “my trespasses” and to remember that God wants us to own them and to overcome them.

The people in Sunday’s gospel (Luke 13) start off paying a great deal of attention to the sins of other people – especially the people Pilate killed and the people on whom the tower fell. Jesus urges them to change focus. He wants them to stop speculating about other peoples’ sins and to own their own. His message resembles his advice to those who would remove a speck from another’s eye while ignoring the plank in their own. Start the anti-sin campaign with the one who appears in your mirror. His request seems to be “Own your sins; acknowledge them; admit you have committed them.” Doing all that points us toward peace and provides a far more meaningful experience of the Our Father when we pray “our trespasses.”

Jesus’s also wants us to overcome the sins we have owned – and he believes we can overcome them. While he doesn’t want us to trivialize our sins, neither does he want us to treat them as the end of the world. He wants us to avoid despair, even in the face of our recurrent sins. Otherwise, why would he have urged the people in the gospel to repent? Jesus never asks us to do the impossible. If repenting were impossible, he wouldn’t ask us to do it. But he does ask us. It must be possible to overcome our sins – with his grace.

Sunday’s readings also remind us that God makes great use of those who own and overcome their biggest sins. The first reading places Moses in Midian, the land to which he fled after he killed the Egyptian. He was a reformed murderer, and God made spectacular use of him. The same goes for Saint Paul, the author of Sunday’s second reading. Remember that Paul took great delight in tormenting Christians, really tormenting them. When he later owned his sins and overcame them, God made extraordinary use of him.

What about you? What makes it difficult for you to admit your mistakes and sins? Might it be an unholy fear of imperfection or maybe some other lingering issues? And what makes it easier for you to acknowledge mistakes, especially those that are sins? Do you need to have the right audience? Do you need to keep remembering that God does not equate you with your worst choice and God doesn’t want anyone to equate anyone with their worst choice? What helps you say “I have sinned.”

And what helps you move beyond sins, especially recurrent sins? Do other peoples’ stories of success give you hope? People in the bible? People in your life? Does good conversation with trusted friends keep you on track? What about confession?

When Jesus taught us to speak to Our Father about “our trespasses,” he didn’t want us to stop with lip service. He clearly wants us to admit our sins and to overcome them. What gets in the way of you doing those two things? And what helps?