This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 13, 2019

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This Week – September 13, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

Great blessings for all who participated in last week’s picnic. We don’t count heads, but we do count burgers – and the burger count suggests this year was our biggest crowd ever! Thanks to the Knights for cooking, the setup and the cleanup. Thanks to all who brought desserts. Thanks to Mike DeLucia and Chris Colaneri, with a special appearance by Jason Tyukody, for terrific music. Thanks to Gail Bellas and co. for welcoming new parishioners. Thanks to our Youth Group for the ice cream and face-painting. Thanks to the “Kahuna Cowboys,” the daredevil junior high folks who, at day’s end, demonstrated remarkably creative ways to get from the top of the water slide to the bottom. Most of all, thanks to all who came to enjoy the afternoon with your church-mates.
And on a personal level, my profound thanks to Zylas Loniewski, my partner in the St. Joe’s Invitational Croquet Tournament. Zylas, a third-grader from Hillsborough, is, like me, the fourth brother in his family. Maybe that fourth-brother thing helped us hold off the great onslaughts to win, fair-and-square, honorably and magnanimously, with grace, style and humility, this year’s tournament.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • WOMEN’S RETREAT – Ticket sales for the Women's Retreat have really taken off! But there are still spots open for this much-awaited event on Thursday the 19th. Come and be inspired by Colleen Kelly Rayner. The event will start with light food and drinks and end with dessert, coffee and great door prizes. Register and buy your ticket online or after Mass this weekend. Be sure to buy your tickets by Sunday night. (Because of the need to plan food etc., tickets will not be available at the event.)

  • BLESSINGS OF THE BRAINS – ATTENTION ALL STUDENTS. Your big aspiration this year is overall success in school. I get that. And to help you reach that goal I will bless your brain on October 13. But what about your other great aspiration? What inspired thing do you hope, with God’s help and the help of your loved ones, to accomplish this year? Is it an academic goal? Athletic? Artistic? Other? Whatever it is, your parish and I want to support you in pursuing that inspired aspiration. So (a) take a picture of you holding a symbol of that aspiration (2) attach that photo to the “Blessing Form” available here or in hard copy in the Gathering Space (3) put that form in the Communications Box and (4) be ready to be blessed at all the Masses on October 12/13. NB: (1) put your usual Mass time and your Fold on the form (2) encourage college kids and grad students to complete the form even if they can’t be here and (3) do NOT include your last name on the form. Thanks. Your parish blesses your hopes.

  • PRAYING FOR OUR DECEASED LOVED ONES – As November approaches, we recall that our love and devotion to our loved ones does not end when they die. We continue to love them. We express that love by praying for them as they transition into the fullness of Christ’s peace. In addition to your private prayers for them, we as a community pray for your deceased loved ones in several ways.

    • Sunday Prayers of the Faithful – We include the loved one in the Prayers of the Faithful the first Sunday after the person has died. If your loved one’s funeral is not here at St. Joe’s please call the front office or email me to let me know of your loved one’s death.

    • Sunday Mass Intentions – These intentions are arranged through our Front Office. The intention is announced at the start of Mass and the person is prayed for, by name, during the Prayers of the Faithful and in the Eucharistic Prayer.

    • Daily Mass Intentions – These intentions are also arranged through our Front Office. The person is prayed for, by name, at the Prayers of the Faithful, in the Eucharistic Prayer, and, in a special way, just before Mass ends.

    • The Memorial Scrolls – Starting this year, Memorial Scrolls will replace the Trees of Remembrance that have been such a source of consolation in recent years. The difficulty is that the list of names and the space for the trees was becoming hard to manage. Please fill out the form electronically by clicking here. If you are not a computer person, fill out one of the forms on the Moses Table and put it in the Communications Box. Please use the Scrolls to memorialize your nearest and dearest. BE SURE TO SUBMIT THE NAMES BY 11 PM ON OCTOBER 15.

    • The Memorial Basket— Not all our deceased beloved fall under the heading “nearest and dearest.” Still, we want to pray for good pals, classmates, old neighbors, team-mates, you name it. Starting this weekend, you will find green memorial cards on the Moses Table. Put as many names as you would like on the cards and put the cards in the Communications Box. All the cards will be bundled, placed on the altar, and mentioned at all November Masses. Let the filling out of that card be a prayerful experience. BE SURE TO SUBMIT THE NAMES BY 11 PM ON OCTOBER 15

    • All Souls’ Day Mass – This year All Souls’ Day falls on a Saturday. That means we have only one Mass, the 8:35, to pray expressly for our loved ones. The Mass will be in the big part of the church rather than in the Daily Mass Zone. At that All Souls’ Mass, I will read the names of all our recently deceased who have died since 10/31/18. Even if we celebrated your loved one’s funeral here, please be sure to print legibly the name of that loved one in the All Souls’ book on the table in the middle of the Gathering Space. We will also use the All Souls’ Day Mass to pray for all the people whose names are on the Memorial Scrolls and in the Memorial Basket, though I will not read all those names.

    • Trees of Remembrance – Though we are replacing the Trees with the Scrolls, we will still have a few trees located in the baptism font. Those trees will carry the names of (a) those who have died since last year and (b) the names of parishioners’ deceased children and grandchildren. As the other signups will provide all the names we need for these trees, you need not do anything here.

    • Necrology – If the enrollment for the scrolls goes well, we will be able to assemble a parish necrology – a list that provides dates of death for our nearest and dearest deceased loved ones. The necrology would enable us to pray, in the Prayers of the Faithful at daily Mass, for our most special people on the anniversaries of their deaths.

Sunday’s Homily

September 8, 2019 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Two: Cognitive Dissonance and The Benefit of the Doubt
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:

We have loads of great news about parishioners and their service work but, given the amount of news in the “Prayer Section” above, it might be better to postpone the service news until next week.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • TRIVIA NIGHT — Saturday October 12. Great fun. Great cause (Youth trips) BE THERE. Get your tickets now!

  • SAINT JOE’S AT PATRIOT STADIUM – Saturday, September 21. More Fun. Tickets on Sale in the Gathering Space after masses.

  • SAGES – Check the Sages Board.

  • ONLY A GIRL – The play was excellent. God bless Janet Rodgers and Phyllis Marganoff and you!

God bless all of you extra in this glorious season
Fr Hank

September 8, 2019 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Two: Cognitive Dissonance and The Benefit of the Doubt


Sometimes the evidence, as the saying goes, “does not add up.” We expect result A and get result Z. Moses figured the burning bush would be consumed but it was not. We think a loved one will take the high road and they opt for the low road. Someone tries to reform but relapses. We are told the homework is all finished but the effort seems to have taken only eight minutes. We might say “this doesn’t add up” or “this makes no sense” or “I don’t get it.” Educational psychologists refer to those moments as instances of “cognitive dissonance,” instances of “noisy thoughts” when reality includes apparently incompatible truths.

Those moments elicit one of two reactions: explore or ignore. Ignoring them can sometimes be the right answer. Exploring them can do great things for salvation history, especially if we approach the confusion with inspired curiosity – that is, a curiosity that gives the other the benefit of the doubt, that assumes there is a plausible explanation, that proceeds on the belief that the other is a good person. Cognitive dissonance that leads to inspired curiosity frequently benefits us individually and as a community.

Sunday’s first reading (Sirach 3) hints that we cannot know what God wants: “Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the LORD intends? . . . when things are in heaven, who can search them out? Or whoever knew your counsel . . .” But that suggestion seems to contradict what we know about our revealing God who invites us to know what he wants, want it, and do it. Can both things be true? Can we (i) be unable to know what God wants and (ii) know what God wants? Yes. The resolution to the puzzle lies in the passage itself. In mentioning that God “had given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high,” the author of Sirach is telling us that, without the Holy Spirit, we cannot know what God wants. With the Holy Spirit, we can. Notice the movement from cognitive dissonance to inspired curiosity to resolution.

The passage from Philemon, the bible’s shortest book, also fails to make sense if we read it carefully. Paul’s advice to Philemon about the runaway slave Onesimus fails to condemn the depraved practice of slavery. That creates some dissonance. How can one of the church’s greatest saints be a saint and not condemn slavery when he has the chance? Part of the explanation lies in the fact that many believers in Paul’s era, and probably Paul himself, believed that slavery would end very soon even without their help. What would end slavery? Christ’s return. They thought it could happen any minute or any day. When it came, slavery, along with life on earth as we knew it, would end. There are several New Testament examples of people practicing charity while not addressing the underlying injustice that causes the need for charity.

The gospel (Luke 14), depicts Jesus telling us to hate our closest family members. Talk about “not adding up.” This makes no sense. Jesus encourages hate? This contradicts everything we know about Jesus. The contradiction might encourage us to ignore or reject this passage. Inspired curiosity offers a better option. If inspired curiosity guides our exploration of the apparent incongruity, we are more likely to discover (i) “hate” is a pretty rough translation of a Semitic idiom and (b) Matthew 10:27 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew’s version makes it clear that Jesus is simply asking us to ask first about his hopes and then consider other people. Dissonance. Inspired curiosity. Resolution.

What about you? In the areas of (i) scripture, (ii) Church teaching and (iii) your personal relationships, what are the areas of cognitive dissonance? What experiences leave you frustrated and unable to take in the inconsistency? Is there a passage of scripture that you find abhorrent? A piece of church teaching that you find objectionable? A loved one’s choices that bewilder you? Are you approaching it with inspired curiosity? Are you giving the bible or the church or that other person the benefit of the doubt? Are you assuming that there is some way to understand the apparent contradiction?

Not all apparent contradictions can be reconciled. Sometimes we should agree to disagree or wait until the situation changes. But, quite frequently, God invites us to explore the paradox, and to do so with inspired curiosity so we can help renew the face of the earth according to his hopes. What might be your next step in practicing inspired curiosity?