This Week – June 7, 2019
Great blessings for the Feast of Pentecost. Wear red to church if you think of it (and already own something suitable). If you are a motorcycle person, please join the gang tomorrow morning (see below). Motors start at 8:00 AM – so we can still hear during morning Mass. And try to get to the Outdoor Movie on the lawn at church tonight. It should be great fun.
THIS WEEK IN PRAYER
FRANK’S FUNERAL – GREATEST thanks to all who made Frank’s funeral a funeral to remember – and even to covet! Special thanks to Laurie Ferretti, and all the singers and all the instrumentalists. More great thanks to Matt Viola for leading us in prayer after Communion. And, as always, thanks to Carol Valone and our Lazarus ministry for such fine work. Keep praying for Frank’s eternal rest and for consolation for Sandy and their children – Matt, Jon and Beth.
Frank’s death leaves many of us sad and more than a little empty. As with the death of any loved one, God gets it. God knows that sadness is a natural human reaction. God knows that pervasive and persuasive faith in Christ’s resurrection can ebb and flow. Sadness and wondering are not signs of cheap faith. They are signs of rich humanity. I hope God is helping you to be patient with yourself as you seek peace with Frank’s death and with anyone else’s. As Saint Paul says, “We grieve, but not like the pagans who have no hope.” And if for a while you grieve like a pagan, go easy on yourself. Keep seeking and you will get to peace.
MICHAEL TABERNERO’S ORDINATION AND FIRST MASS – Let me know if you want to know about the special parking spaces near the cathedral. I hope to see those of you who can swing it at Michael’s ordination at 10:30 am on June 22 and at his first Mass that afternoon at 4:45. NO special parking tips required for that one!
June 2, 2019 — Seventh Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part VI: Forgiveness
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.
To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.
THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:
OUR RESPECT LIFE FOLKS – Thanks and blessings for those who provided information about how to support legislation to protect infants born unexpectedly in situations that do not treasure them. Thanks too to the many people who let the Respect Life Ministry know what issues matter most to you. The group collected many inspired suggestions.
THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:
NEW PARISHIONERS – Please join me in welcoming our newest parishioners. We continue to pray that our newest members will experience their new parish as a place of great grace and that our newest parishioners will be channels of great grace for many others. God’s great blessings for:
Christopher and Courtney DeMauro and their son Nicholas
Vincent and Jennifer Esposito and their children Gianna, Emilia and Mickey
Anthony and Carolann Guidotti
Lisa Anne Hartnett and family members Anthony and Gail
Charles and Kristen Meiser and their children Hayden and Charles, Jr.
Jozef and Barbara Murawski
John and Cheryl Papa and their daughter Brittney
Jeffery and Sara Perley and their children Emily, Colin, and Margaret
How blessed are we to have these believers enrich our community? WAY!
MOTORCYCLE PEOPLE – GET GOING! – The parish motorcyclist club’s first ride of the season departs Saturday at 8:15. Destination? The Flemington Diner via a very scenic route. Return time? 11 am. Need to have joined the club or made a reservation? Absolutely not. Just get on your bike and get to church and get going. It is a truly wonderful bunch.
CALLING ALL GRADUATES – Please let me know – via this link or via the forms on the Moses Table – the high-school, college or graduate school from which you are graduating and what your post-grad plans include. I hope to post one comprehensive “Graduate List” in late June. Your fellow parishioners are eager to learn about your success and to wish you well. So, let me know about your graduations.
THIS WEEK’S SAGES EVENTS – This week’s line dancing session was amazing fun to behold. I was going to join you all and bust a move, but I figured my dazzling footwork might be a bit off-putting so of course I decided to keep moving (NOT.) That was one big bunch of fun to watch. Thanks for all who made it happen and thanks to all who danced.
UPCOMING SAGES EVENTS – Please consider joining the fun at the next two Sage events:
How to use your Smartphone seminar: iPhone & Android – Thursday, June 13th, 10 am,
Chair Exercise Class Information Session – Tuesday, June 18th, 11 am, Parish Hall
All are welcome to join both events. Please sign up at the Sages bulletin board in the Gathering Space (across from the bookcase.)
Your Pastor’s Brag
A BRILLIANT FUNDRAISING EFFORT – Several parishioners have played a critically important role in some recent and huge fundraising efforts for the Adult Day Center of Somerset. (Learn more about it if you are a senior citizen or love a senior citizen.) Supersized Kudos for Ken Scherer (4:45, S3), Cindy Norfleet (9:30, S7), Hilary Kruchowy (4:45, S 3) and Dave Mendez (4:45, S3).
BACK IN THE GAME – Congratulations to star athlete Kelly Young (6:00, S5). Less than a year after a traumatic bike crash and back surgery, Kelly Young is back! She placed second in her age group at the Independence triathlon last weekend. But this is just a warmup for her half ironman in July in Ohio! Thanks to Kelly for the overwhelming inspiration.
PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING
With continued blessings and gratitude for all,
June 2, 2019 — Seventh Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part VI: Forgiving
Could the church have survived if people had failed to forgive one another? Maybe. But maybe not.
They fought some impressive fights. Peter and Paul duked it out about eating with Gentiles. But they then forgave each other from the heart. Paul preached so long that Eutyches fell asleep, tumbled out the window and died. But Paul brought him back to life and all was forgiven, truly. A bunch of Paul’s friends abandoned him when he urgently needed some easy-to-give help that they chose not to provide. But Paul forgave them.
The early church survived and flourished, in part, because people forgave each other. They frequently did two of the most important things that forgiveness requires: they disavowed retaliation and they chose to see the other as more than a villain. It sometimes took a while to evolve beyond the urges to retaliate and beyond the see only the ugliness in the other. Typically, they eventually reached a forgiving place.
Sunday’s first reading (Acts 7) tells the story of Stephen, the first martyr. It spotlights the ability to forgive that God gave the early church. It depicts Stephen, as his opponents are killing him, shouting to Jesus to forgive his murderers: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Who can do that? Who can disavow retaliation against people who are their murderers? Anyone to whom God gives the extraordinary ability to forgive. And God gave that grace to many people in the early church.
Jesus does some subtle but extraordinary forgiving in the portion of the High Priestly Prayer (John 17) that we heard on Sunday. We hear him praying, at the Last Supper, both for his disciples and for those whom the disciples will lead to faith. Both groups will hurt Jesus. The disciples will abandon him hours after he prays for them. The next generations of believers will frequently choose sin. Still, Jesus prays for them and us. He includes no exemptions or fine-print-escape-clauses – such as, “Father I pray for my disciples except those who will abandon me tomorrow. Please punish them.” Neither does he pray, “I pray for the new believers, except the big sinners whom I hope you will punish.” And before the next sunset, Jesus will pray for those who murder him, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus gives us an example of true forgiveness and Jesus helps deliver that grace to members of the early church.
This season’s readings remind us that God continues to give us these gifts and God gives us those gifts in Sunday Mass in a special way. The congregation, the Word, and the Eucharist are special channels of these graces. So, what is your story? Have there been people in the congregation – this congregation or one in your past – who have truly forgiven you and thereby taught you about forgiveness? Who has decided not to retaliate against you? Who has decided not to think of you only as the rat who caused trouble? How about the Word? Are there passages that play in your head that call you back from the urge to retaliate? Things that Jesus said? Words spoken by the prophets or the apostles or the psalmists? And what passages invite you to the higher ground of seeing the wholeness of those who injure you or your loved ones? Most importantly, how about the Eucharist? Can you recall peak moments when the words of the Eucharistic Prayers or the words of the Consecration penetrated you with an appreciation of how much Jesus has forgiven you? How about the reminder that he will pour out his blood so that your sins may be forgiven? Those words give us the antithesis of retaliation or dismissal.
The dark side always wants us to hold grudges. The dark side wants us to retaliate and to see others only as ultra-villains. Doing all that robs us of peace and that is what the dark side wants. Participation in Sunday Mass has a way of leading us to the peace that forgiveness provides. What is your story?