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Pastor’s Ponderings – February 3, 2019 – St. Joseph

What do you think about St. Joseph? I know that he’s often overshadowed by Christ and His mother Mary of Nazareth. But Joseph too waited for God to speak to him and then respond with obedience.

Luke and Matthew mark Joseph’s descent in the line/house of King David. The Bible has left us with the most important knowledge about him: “He was a righteous man.”

St. Joseph revealed in his humanity the unique role of fathers to proclaim God’s truth by word and deed. His situation of being the foster father of Jesus draws attention to the truth about fatherhood, which is more than a mere fact of biological fatherhood.

A man is a father most when he invests himself in the spiritual and moral formation of his children. Joseph was keenly aware, as every father should be, that he served as the representative of God the Father.

We priests have the title of “Father” for we act in the spiritual realm as fathers, fathers in Baptism and the other sacraments in the spiritual responsibilities of life.

St. Joseph protected and provided for Jesus and Mary. He named Jesus, taught him how to pray, how to work, how to be a man.

St. Joseph’s life reminds us that a home or a community is not built on power and possessions, but on goodness; not on riches and wealth, but on faith, fidelity, purity and mutual love.

St. Joseph, the silent, speaks eloquently none-the-less.

Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.

Pastor’s Ponderings – February 3, 2019 – St. Joseph2019-02-01T21:39:00+00:00

Pastor’s Ponderings – January 27, 2019 – A House Divided

And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:25)

Division is painful. We witness families splitting up, people of different cultures fighting with other, splitting up, political parties bickering about policy. Even our Church seems to be tearing itself apart at times.

Labels such as “ liberal” and “conservative” separate Christians and only serve to wound the Church. It may be a cliche to ask, “Why can’t we all just get along?” But seeking reconciliation is what we are called to do.

We are called to follow the lead of Jesus; whose mission was one of reconciliation. There are severed relationships in each of our lives that we could help mend. There may be a disgruntled family member or friend to whom we could reach out to in friendship. How will we continue Jesus’ healing work today?

-from David Nantais, Author

 

Pastor’s Ponderings – January 27, 2019 – A House Divided2019-01-26T00:09:40+00:00

Pastor’s Ponderings – January 20, 2019 – Thank You

In today’s gospel readings we see Jesus saving the couple’s wedding celebrations by providing wine when they had run out. What a fizzle the wedding feast would have been if Jesus had not intervened.

Even though we see that he was reluctant to reveal himself at that time—thanks to his mother Mary—he was generous almost to a fault at the beckoning of his mother. He was exceedingly generous with the quality and quantity of the wine he contributes.

Jesus is concerned with the dignity of every person. As I write this I remember my brother Dave’s church in Virginia, where a recently arrived legal refuge family was welcomed. Each one said a simple thank you to the congregation, which had generously given funds to help this family through their first year in our country.

They were migrants first, fleeing their home in desperation. I tried to imagine what they must have gone through and left behind, the patience and hope they surely needed during their long wait and now the courage they will need to settle-in in a new country and continue to learn a new language.

How thankful they must be. In a completely different way, I too was thankful. Coming to a new parish isn’t the same, but I did have to get acclimated to my new home. And I am so very thankful to God for this assignment; all the preparations you made. And I am thankful during this past Christmas for your generosity to me, the cards and messages, the cards with the “green holy cards” in, the food stuffs, the candy and cookies, and the genuine sentiments of the season.

This is my thank you note to each of you. Thank you so very much!

Sincerely yours in Christ and St. John Vianney,

Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.

Pastor’s Ponderings – January 20, 2019 – Thank You2019-01-19T09:30:58+00:00

Pastor’s Ponderings – January 13, 2019 – Baptism of the Lord

In today’s readings we hear of Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. This epiphany or showing forth of the divine is represented by the Dove resting upon Jesus; bearing witness to the truth of what was happening and the Father’s proclamation,  “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” This sums up the revelation of the Son of God in the Christmas Season.

Do you remember your own baptism? Have you ever witnessed someone else’s baptism? What do you recall from these experiences?

In today’s readings we listen for echoes of our own baptism and the ones we’ve been able to witness: water, oil, Spirit, the Trinity, a faith filled community gathered in prayer.

This Gospel recounts the final event of our Christmas Season. The Christmas Season looks beyond the baby in Bethlehem. Each one of the feast peals back the layers a little further, each layer revealing the truth of Jesus of Nazareth from a different perspective.

Jesus is the One in whom God keeps the promises made through Isaiah the prophet. He will show to the world the glory, justice, power, and the abundant love God has for us. And by baptism we can lay claim to that divine declaration: “You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased!”

Do you celebrate your Baptism date anniversary? Today is a fitting time to start.

Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.

Pastor’s Ponderings – January 13, 2019 – Baptism of the Lord2019-01-18T23:22:24+00:00

Pastor’s Ponderings – January 6, 2019 – Being a Disciple

Welcome to 2019 brothers and sisters; coming with your new New Year’s Resolutions all bright and shinny and ready to be acted upon. I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to quit smoking, I’m going to get in shape; these are good resolves; but really how long do they last?

There is something that does last because the “returns” are out of this world. ‘Be My disciples’ Jesus invites us. Unfortunately many Christians don’t see themselves as disciples. “I’m just a normal Christian. I go to Mass. I believe. I try to be a good person. But I’m not good enough to be a disciple.” Too often, we view “ordinary Christians” and “disciples” as being in two separate categories.

Disciples are those super-Christians, those who are part of an elite group of religious leaders of exceptionally spiritual people, Bishops, priest, sisters, brothers, Mother Teresa, and lay-leaders and people who show up at every event at my parish- those are disciples. But I’m just an ordinary guy in pew #16. I could never be a disciple.

What if I should tell you that being a disciple is not beyond you, and that it’s something you’ve already begun experiencing in your relationship with God? What if I told you that learning to live more intentionally as a disciple can make all the difference in you spiritual life?

If you desire a closer, more intimate relationship with Jesus- if you desire your spiritual life to grow more profoundly and go far beyond the humdrum existence of a Christian who is just going through the motions- then step back with me and consider what it means to follow Jesus intentionally as a disciple!!

Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.

Pastor’s Ponderings – January 6, 2019 – Being a Disciple2019-01-18T23:26:16+00:00

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 30, 2018 – Thought and Meditation

On the television news we hear about the thousands of immigrants who walked from different countries to apply for citizenship in our America. All of them that I saw looked bedraggled. I felt so sorry for them as a group of people who didn’t expect this.

I imagine that the journey was the same for Joseph, Mary and Jesus. The trip to Jerusalem for Passover was difficult–days of walking, the City being so crowded with people from all over the place and beyond. The air must have been thick with the smoke and smell of burnt offerings and blood. And of course, the Roman soldiers kept an eye on everything.

Imagine losing your child in this crowd, searching frantically for three days and the joyful relief of finding hin safe! Jesus’ cheeky response always takes me by surprise. Even at twelve he seems as though he knows he has a mission, and from where he has come. But Mary, his mother, the life giver, the courageous woman who said yes, knows there is more to her son’s destiny.

We can sit down momentarily and get our breath once more after the Christmas rush and, just like this family, enjoy the rest. But that won’t last long for us because shortly we will be sharing once more the coming of a new year. For Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—thought and meditation, as they raised the Christ Child, can help us too during our difficult times and assisting others with theirs.

Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 30, 2018 – Thought and Meditation2019-01-19T09:32:41+00:00

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 23, 2018 – Being Human

There were times when I tried to meditate that my mind started to wonder. As much as I tried to keep focused my mind, my imagination took flight. I thought about things I had to do but hadn’t done yet. I daydreamed about vacations. I thought about books and movies; current and old movies.

Remember in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and her friends back away from the scary wizard and notice the guy at the side? “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” yells the wizard who wants to instill fear and keep people at a distance. The last thing he wanted was to be seen as human.

There is a similar scene in the old testament when God visits his people at Mount Horeb in fire and thunder, and the people back away in fear and exclaim that they would much rather listen to Moses. Moses is not scary; he is human like them. God doesn’t blame his people for this request but compliments them. This is well said and promises Jesus.

Unlike the fake wizard who wants to remain at a distance, the true God wants to come as close to us as possible. God does not want us to back away, but to approach him with affection and wonder, like the humble shepherds and the curious wise men.

Why do we pay so much attention to the baby in the manger? Because, paradoxically, the best way for God to reveal to us the Infinite Love, which is his divinity, is through Jesus’ humanity. This is the eternal mystery of Christmas.

Come let us adore him.

Have a blessed Christmas and only the best of New Years.

Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 23, 2018 – Being Human2019-01-18T23:29:03+00:00

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 16, 2018 – Retired Religious

As we look at the number of religious orders and societies that are dwindling, we’re confronted with others that are booming. For instance, my Franciscan Order is just about holding its own; there are about 900 of us worldwide. Most of us are in India, Sri Lancia, Europe and in the USA, Loretto, Pennsylvania to be exact.

With the trials and tribulations of the growing number of retired men and women religious we must do something. Sometimes I think that the Sisters/Nuns make the best decisions regarding preparation for the future.

Take the Dominican Sisters of Peace. These Sisters are members of a religious congregation formed on Easter Sunday, April 22, 2009. It’s composed of seven foundations (groups) who decided to join together: Dominican Sisters of St Catherine, Kentucky; Dominican Sisters of Akron, Ohio; Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs, Columbus, Ohio; Dominican Sisters of Great Bend, Kansas; Dominican Sisters of Oxford, Michigan; Dominican Sisters of St. Mary’s, and the Eucharistic Missionaries St. Dominic; both from New Orleans, Louisiana.

The communities began discussing a possible merger in 2002 in order to combine resources and continue their ministries/apostolates. A petition was sent to the Vatican five years later, and the new congregation received permission that Fall for the merger.

In the Spring of 2009, the official decree authorized the establishment of the Dominican Sister of Peace. In 2012, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de Ricci, located in Upper Darby, Pa, joined the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

The mission of the Dominican Sisters of Peace is to live lives of peacemaking “where ever we are and in everything we do.” It took foresight and grace to accomplish this Herculean task. But the Sisters always said that, “Almost anything prayed for- placed between two Hail Mary’s- is always a sure thing.

**Senior Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests ministered for years for little to no pay. Their sacrifices now leave their religious communities without adequate retirement savings. Your gift to the Retirement Fund for Religious helps to provide nursing care, medications, and more to tens of thousands of elderly religious.

Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 16, 2018 – Retired Religious2019-01-18T20:54:56+00:00

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 9, 2018 – Refugees

Shortly after being elected in 2013, Pope Francis received news about an overcrowded boat of refugees that capsized off the North African coast.

Though hundreds were on board, only eight initially survived the shipwreck by clinging to a fishing net in the middle of the Mediterranean. But when fishermen saw them pleading for their lives, they cut their net and sent them to die in the ocean depths.

Pope Francis was so moved by this story that he chose to make his first pastoral visit to the small Italian island of Lampedusa, which has become a symbol of the refugee crisis and all those drowning in the sea of human indifference. When he arrived, he celebrated Mass near the harbor and used a chalice hewn from driftwood of downed refugee vessels.

From the dead wood of the sea, Pope Francis had the courage to proclaim the God of love by lifting up the sacrament of life. Today’s first reading speaks about a shoot sprouting from the stump of Jesse, of a new bud blossoming from the dead wood.

The stump is another way of speaking about the house of David, which had been cut down by the Babylonians, who forced the people of Israel to live as migrants and exiles in a foreign land. Both Pope Francis and Isaiah give testimony to the radical nature of biblical faith; to dare to believe in God’s power to regenerate life, even and especially in places where the world sees only death.

Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 9, 2018 – Refugees2019-01-19T09:30:38+00:00

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 2, 2018 – Prayer

Ever heard someone say, “Well the least I can do for you is pray for you?” They may say this as they feel helpless.

I want to tell you that the most you can do is pray for someone or something. When you pray for someone you are getting into God’s ear. Make God hear you.

When God hears you, there is a change occurring in us by His grace. If you are faithful, you will see a change. If you are not faithful, why expect anything says St. James in his letter. Be faithful and faith – filled when you pray.

Our brothers and sisters–our country–our world is in such dire need of your prayers. I came across this prayer in some mailings and it struck me as a heartfelt one with its earnestness:

Loving Father united to Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, The Sacrifice of Calvary sacramentally made present, celebrated around the world, in the Holy Spirit: 

We offer up all we do united to the Mass. We unite in one mind and one heart as members of the mystical body of Christ, with Christ our head in the pure and holy heart of Jesus and through the powerful intercession of Mary with all the angels and saints and souls in Purgatory, and we beg for the saving grace for our country, the United States of America.

Please help us. We further pray for unity always and in all ways- to do the will of God in love.

We cover with the Precious Blood of Jesus our leaders and people of the USA and thrust into Hell the Devil and all his followers.

We consecrate our country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary- and all our dioceses and beg for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God help us!

We pray for our families, the priests, deacons and the Church throughout the world. In the Name of Jesus please hear us, we pray.

We do pray for our president and all world leaders. We pray that we are united as one nation under God to work together in love as God wants. Amen.

Pray daily!!!

Fr. Andrew, T.O.R.

Pastor’s Ponderings – December 2, 2018 – Prayer2019-01-18T23:33:45+00:00