Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day 2020


Today we celebrate Memorial Day.  While it often signifies the official beginning of summer it is much more than that.  It is the day when we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation throughout history.  Let us pray with gratitude and honor for all those who gave their all: 

Gracious God, on this Memorial Day weekend, we remember and give thanks for those who have given their lives in the service of our country.  When the need was greatest, they stepped forward and did their duty to defend the freedoms that we enjoy, and to win the same for others.

O God, you yourself have taught us that no love is greater than that which gives itself for another.  These honored dead gave the most precious gift they had, life itself,
for loved ones and neighbors, for comrades and country - and for us.

Help us to honor their memory by caring for the family members they have left behind,
by ensuring that their wounded comrades are properly cared for, by being watchful caretakers of the freedoms for which they gave their lives, and by demanding that no other young men and women follow them to a soldier's grave unless the reason is worthy and the cause is just.

Holy One, help us to remember that freedom is not free.  There are times when its cost is, indeed, dear.  Never let us forget those who paid so terrible a price to ensure that freedom would be our legacy.  Though their names may fade with the passing of generations, may we never forget what they have done.

Help us to be worthy of their sacrifice, O God, help us to be worthy.  J.Veltri, S.J.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Laudato Si


Today we celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si.  Five years ago Pope Francis appealed for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. Pope Francis called the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. This encyclical was written with both hope and resolve, looking to our common future with candor and humility.

The title is taken from the first line of the encyclical, "Laudato si', mi Signore," or "Praise be to you, my Lord." In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. The encyclical is divided into six chapters which together provide a thorough analysis of human life and its three intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor, and with the earth. At noon today Christians around the world are called to pray:

Loving God, Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in them, You created us in your image and made us stewards of all your creation, of our common home.  You blessed us with the sun, water and bountiful land so that all might be nourished.  Open our minds and touch our hearts, so that we may attend to your gift of creation.  Help us to be conscious that our common home belongs not only to us, but to all future generations, and that it is our responsibility to preserve it.  May we help each person secure the food and resources that they need.  Be present to those in need in these trying times, especially the poorest and those most at risk of being left behind.  Transform our fear, anxiety and feelings of isolation into hope so that we may experience a true conversion of the heart.  Help us to show creative solidarity in addressing the consequences of this global pandemic, Make us courageous to embrace the changes that are needed in search of the common good, Now more than ever may we feel that we are all interconnected, in our efforts to lift up the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.  We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen

Let us pray in solidarity with people all over the world for our common home – the earth.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Love


Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him.  But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.  Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.  And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”  (John 14: 15 – 21)

The weather this weekend has been spectacular and it has been nice to take some time outside.  It was amazing to see the number of people outside and most were keeping social distancing.  After a morning of participating in a social distance friendly food drive to benefit a senior citizens complex we went for a ride and purchased sandwiches and then went to eat them by the water.  As we approached Davenport Park we saw the number of cars and said if there was a parking space then we were meant to be there. I pulled in and low and behold there was a spot directly facing he water.  We sat in the car and ate and just enjoyed the beauty of the water.  I believe that this is what Jesus is saying to us today. If we love Him, if we want to know Him more, we must keep His commandments. Sometimes it’s going to be hard, or even awkward. It might not be what we feel like doing or it could stretch us in a way we haven’t stretched before. But, the more we keep His commandments, the more we will learn to love Him. And the more we learn to love Him, the better we will keep His commandments.

We need to always remember that we are never alone and that our God is always there for us.  Let us remember to be kind to one another and follow Jesus’ example.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day


Today we celebrate Mother’s Day.  Suffragist and writer Julia Ward Howe first suggested the idea of Mother's Day in the United States in 1872. Howe was a pacifist and saw the holiday as a chance to unite women and rally for peace. For several years, she held an annual Mother's Day meeting in Boston.  However, West Virginia activist Anna Jarvis is credited with creating the holiday that is celebrated today.

In 1908, Jarvis campaigned for a national observance of the holiday in honor of her mother, who was a community health advocate. Her mom had organized several Mother's Day Work Clubs that addressed child rearing and public health issues, and Jarvis wanted to commemorate her and the work of all mothers.  However, Jarvis later became disillusioned by how floral and greeting card companies commercialized the holiday and said she regretted starting it.

It became an official US holiday in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a day of "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." 

Let us pray A Prayer in Gratitude for all Mothers

Good and Gentle God, we pray in gratitude for our mothers and for all the women who have joined with you in the wonder of bringing forth new life. You who became human through a woman, grant to all mothers the courage they need to face the uncertain future that life with children always brings.

Give them the strength to live and to be loved in return, not perfectly, but humanly.
Give them the faithful support of husband, family and friends as they care for the physical and spiritual growth of their children.

Give them joy and delight in their children to sustain them through the trials of motherhood. Most of all, give them the wisdom to turn to you for help when they need it most.  Amen.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Third Sunday of Easter


Third Sunday of Easter Reflection from the Archdiocese of New York

“Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.”   From today's Gospel LK 24:13-35

Today’s gospel passage is often referred to when teaching about the Eucharist and how Christ is truly present in this sacrament.  We are all yearning for the Eucharist and for our parish community. During this time of social distancing, we may be taking time to pray and to come closer to the Lord, perhaps God is asking us to take that yearning and to transform it into something holy.

Today more than any other year He calls out to each one of us. It is indeed a calling almost too personal for us to resist. It has become personal because the crucifixion was as personal to our Lord as it is for us to hear of a family member who is ill or suffering.  This is why we can join into the mystery of hope that comes from a heart that knows He is truly risen, that death doesn't have the last word, that everything shall pass but His word endures. It is a calling to cooperate in God’s plan for the salvation of the world as we are the current carriers of the faith that we are also called to transmit it to everyone.
How do we do this?

It is true that at the moment we may not be able to go anywhere and that may make us feel like we are not doing anything. Yet we can, and we are. In Matthew’s gospel we read the greatest commandment that Jesus gives us “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it:You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37). Let’s take a moment and reflect: how are you loving God above all things? Are you speaking with Him more? Are you trusting Him more? Are you listening more during your prayer time? As a result of these changes, have your actions towards others changed?  Are you encouraging others when you speak to them over the phone? Are you praying for all the sick and for the souls of those who have left this world? Are you listening more to your family members when they share their thoughts with you? Are you seeing more of the goodness in your family members?

If you are not happy with your answers to the questions above, know that forming a relationship with God takes time, effort and persistence, just as a human relationship does. God can work with and through us, especially during this difficult time.
Let us thank God for all the ways He is working in our lives because by striving to love God above all things, and to love others as we love ourselves we are evangelizing.  Hence a great reason to be encouraged, and persevere in prayer like the first apostles who bore fruits. We are the fruit of their prayers.

Let us also be grateful for the people in our lives who evangelized us: parents, grandparents, teachers, youth ministers, neighbors, aunts, uncles, and our priests, we all have one particular person who came into our lives and introduced us to the beauty of prayer and a friendship with God. Let us pray in gratitude for all those who also made disciples out of us, and let us pray that we can always strive to do the same, and one day all together joyfully sit with the Father who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Second Sunday of Easter


Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter which is called Divine Mercy Sunday!   In our Gospel today we have the familiar story of Thomas who needed proof that the apostles had seen the Risen Christ.  He was the sort of man who needed to see the marks of nails in Jesus’s hands and put his fingers right into the wound in His side before he could believe that Christ had risen from the dead. When the other disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.”  He could not trust their tale. He could not be convinced.

Thomas believed after he had seen, after he had experienced the Risen Christ.  Our faith is one that is an experiential one.  Each one of us is given many different opportunities to experience our faith.  It is truly a matter of the heart.  We develop our relationship with God over our lifetime.  We do not have it all together at a certain point.  For each Christian the journey is unique.

As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday we ritualize one of God’s greatest gifts – mercy. To understand mercy is to look into the depths of the heart of God and see His great love for each one of us. It is to know that there is nothing that any one of us could do that would make God love us any less or any more. To understand mercy is to allow ourselves to be loved right where we are, right as we are.  Take some time today to reflect on God’s great mercy and love.  Are you able to accept and respond to God’s abundant love for you? 




Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Sunday


Sharing Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi message of Hope.  Happy Easter to all.

Pope’s Easter Urbi et Orbi message: “The contagion of hope”

Pope Francis’ 'Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday challenges us to ban indifference, self-centeredness, division and forgetfulness during this time of Covid-19 – and to spread the “contagion” of hope.  By Se├án-Patrick Lovett

No banner hung from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica. No bands played the Vatican anthem. No floral arrangements decorated St Peter’s Square. Nearby streets were empty and silent, as Italy continues to respect a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Inside the Basilica, surrounded only by his closest collaborators, Pope Francis delivered his traditional Easter Urbi et Orbi message to the city of Rome and the world.

A different “contagion”

Millions of people watched and listened on various media platforms as the Pope repeated the Easter proclamation: “Christ, my hope, is risen!” He called this message “a different ‘contagion’”, one that is transmitted “from heart to heart”.

This Good News is like a new flame that springs up “in the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges, and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family”, said the Pope.

Christ’s resurrection is not a “magic formula that makes problems vanish”, he continued, “it is the victory of love over the root of evil”. This victory “does not ‘by-pass’ suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good”, he added.

Comfort for those affected by the coronavirus

The Pope’s thoughts turned immediately to those directly affected by the coronavirus. “For many, this is an Easter of solitude, lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties”, he said.

“This disease has not only deprived us of human closeness, but also of the possibility of receiving in person the consolation that flows from the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation”, said Pope Francis.

“But the Lord has not left us alone”, he added. “United in our prayer, we are convinced that He has laid His hand upon us”.

Gratitude to those providing essential services

The Pope then expressed his gratitude and affection to doctors and nurses, and “to all who work diligently to guarantee the essential services necessary for civil society, and to the law enforcement and military personnel who in many countries have helped ease people’s difficulties and sufferings”.

Encouragement to work for the common good

Pope Francis acknowledged that “this is also a time of worry about an uncertain future, about jobs that are at risk”. He encouraged political leaders “to work actively for the common good”, providing the means “to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities”.

Not a time for indifference

This is not a time for indifference, said the Pope, “because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic”. He prayed that the risen Jesus may grant hope “to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless”.  Pope Francis also called for the relaxation of international sanctions and for “the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations”.

Not a time for self-centeredness

This is not a time for self-centeredness, continued Pope Francis, because “the challenge we are facing is shared by all”. Europe, in particular, was able “to overcome the rivalries of the past” following the Second World War, “thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity”. It is urgent “these rivalries do not regain force”, the Pope continued. We all need to recognize ourselves “as part of a single family and support one another”. Selfishly pursuing particular interests risks “damaging the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations”, he added.

Not a time for division

This is not a time for division, said the Pope, as he appealed for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world”. Criticizing the vast amounts of money spent on the arms trade, Pope Francis called for a solution to the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon. He said he hoped Israelis and Palestinians might resume dialogue, that the situation in eastern Ukraine might be resolved, and that “terrorist attacks carried out against so many innocent people in different African countries may come to an end”.

Not a time for forgetfulness

This is not a time for forgetfulness, continued Pope Francis, referring to the humanitarian crises being faced in Asia and Africa. He prayed for refugees and migrants “living in unbearable conditions, especially in Libya and on the border between Greece and Turkey”. The Pope prayed also that solutions may be found in Venezuela, allowing “international assistance to a population suffering from the grave political, socio-economic and health situation” there.

Christ dispels the darkness of suffering
“Indifference, self-centeredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time”, said the Pope. These words “seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us”, and we want to ban them forever, he added.

Pope Francis concluded his Urbi et Orbi message with a prayer: “May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of His glorious day. A day that knows no end”.