Dear Brothers, Sisters & website Readers,
As we continue to relax safeguards in regard to the pandemic, the church is also issuing updated guidelines in regard to our liturgical gatherings in line with various restriction changes from the state beginning May 19th, 2021....

As I sincerely thank you for your gracious cooperation over these past 15 months, I am happy that as a parish we have worked together – as we always have – to ensure that we can gather in prayer within an environment that is safe while liturgically rich and inspiring.

The dispensation from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass (and Holy Days of Obligation) remains in effect.  Nonetheless, beginning Wednesday 19 May, 100% of the church’s capacity MAY now be utilized.  At the same time, MASKS need to continue to be worn in church as an effective precaution.  I would ask that you sincerely consider being present at our weekend masses, ESPECIALLY if you have ALREADY received your vaccinations.  There is nothing so uplifting as being with other people in prayer.  There are few things so inspiring as joining in the power of prayer with those around us. 

Certainly, I understand there are a number of our elderly parishioners and those who are especially susceptible to infection who will feel safer at home and we will continue with our current schedule of live streaming to provide for your spiritual growth.   At the same time, our parish family now has an opportunity to establish a new routine of thankful worship and community prayer after the past restrictions we’ve endured.  We are a social people; we are returning to many sports and other events; it is also time to recommit ourselves to “Keeping Holy the Sabbath Day” by our presence at Mass.  Thankfully our church is large enough to provide a safe environment, for just about as many people who wish to attend, at any of our weekend liturgies.  We are already modifying our seating arrangements so that we can seat as many people as possible while still maintaining some social distancing.  We are removing a numberer of the “DO NOT SIT” signs in the hope that this will help families attend mass together while still providing additional seating within a safe environment.

The first assignments of Altar Servers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion on a voluntary basis will begin the weekend of 5/6 June.  The SIGN OF PEACE may resume WITHOUT shaking hands, but by giving a wave or blowing a kiss.  Families of the same household sitting together definitely do not need to be as formal.  Although the risk of transmitting the virus though surface contact is minimal, we will continue sanitizing the church until the end of the month, but the Holy Water fonts at the doors will remain empty indefinitely.  The offering of the Precious Blood from the chalice WILL NOT be offered in the foreseeable future.  I will be working with Mr. Buckel to bring back our hymnals as swiftly as possible.

We’ve all been through a period of great anxiety and major divisions of thought over the past year plus.  We’ve endured a great number of inconveniences and hardships.  Through it all you have been fantastic in your financial support of the parish both through your envelopes and via ‘We Share’.  Thank you so much for your loyalty and perseverance.  We all desire to return to what we remember as ‘normal’ and to do so as quickly as possible.  It is my belief that the greater the number of people who receive the Covid-19 vaccination, the faster this return to normalcy will become a reality.  If you look at the statistics, there are still positive cases all over Long Island every day.  If you have not been vaccinated as of yet, I ask that you will prayerfully reconsider.  This will help us to re-establish so many of the programs and activities adversely affected by this past year’s need for isolation. This is only a very quick synopsis covering the broad questions of coming together in worship.  If you have any questions, I will be happy to try to answer as best as I can.

Easter 2021
I just want to say, HAPPY EASTER!!  This EASTER, for me is extra special.  Last year the need for isolation due to the Corona-19 virus prevented us from gathering in church and with loved ones.  If the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder” has any truth, I know for that myself and I pray the same for you that your family celebration and hopefully your presence in church will bring you a special peace and joy in the celebrating of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

In my meditations on the gospels, one of the most moving and most important proclamations from the scriptures is a single line from the Gospel of St. Mark.  “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; but has risen as he said”.  Those words not only sustain our hopes for our loved ones who have passed, but it is a needed proclamation of the love which the world desperately needs to experience amid so much turmoil and so many divisions.  The Easter Mystery, the Resurrection of Jesus is the powerful gift of how great the love between the Father and the Son is.  It is the image of the same love God Our Father and Our Lord and Brother Jesus Christ has for each of us!  It is a love which promises the gift of life eternal.

We know how frail human life is – this past year has shown us how swiftly disease can come and bear away even those people we think as so strong and invulnerable.  Yet it is in our human weakness when life can vanish so quickly that we need to be emotionally moved by the Easter Victory.  How strongly our faith can be both nourished and revived when we take the time to think of what a similar wonder Our God has planned for you and me!  And at the same time, we need to think of how greatly our God is challenging us to put all our faith, all our hope in our participation in the Easter Victory.

The gift of resurrection may seem so far away, so impossible.  The gift of the resurrection may very well be beyond our total understanding.  I know I have trouble wrapping my thoughts around the immensity of this gift; everlasting life, seeing God face to face, heaven.  And, yet, how can we hesitate to accept what is offered – the gift of eternal life, body and soul, just like Jesus himself and his Blessed Mother.  This is ultimately what God wants for us.  As God is eternal, the source and perfection of love – on that Last Day, in the resurrection of the dead, God desires us to become like him, experiencing the eternal perfection of love.

At this Easter celebration, our past spiritual failures, our past inconsistencies of loving, our past sins cannot paralyze us.  Rather, just as Jesus broke the chains of sin and death, we need to break the chains of our past fears.  We may have thought that we would never be spiritually ready and that we are unworthy for the Kingdom of God.  Yet none of us are really ready; and none of us are ever worthy.  Let us listen to the words Jesus speaks to his apostles when he appears to them as they are behind locked doors in the upper room.  He says, “Peace be with you”.  If Jesus could greet his cowardly friends so cordially after they ran away on Good Friday, at Easter, Jesus greets us in the same way; PEACE BE WITH YOU!  So, let us seize the joy, let us seize the day for - this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.


Lent 2021
LENT!  For some people that’s a four letter word to be avoided.  Lent brings visions of discomfort, sacrifice, prayer, fasting, “giving up” something we enjoy, and yes, failure – failure to keep our Lenten Resolutions.  All this leads to disappointment and frustration – disappointment in ourselves in not being more resolute in doing what we really wanted to do.  Disappointment in having disappointed God.  There is also a sense of frustration in knowing that we could have done better, and not having any good answers as to why we didn’t actually become better.  Perhaps the very letters that form the word ‘L-E-N-T’ can help us negotiate the path we would like to walk.
First of all, the letter L should remind us that this is a time of love. We’re not talking about a romantic or physical love as much as a love which comes from ‘agape’ understood to be a total, self-sacrificing, gift of self to another.  This is how God shows love for us in the gift of Jesus.  It is Jesus who offers the sacrifice of his body on the cross to show us his complete emptying of his entire self for love of you and me.  This is the type of attitude Our God asks us to have during the Lenten Season.  To do whatever we choose to offer God this Lent as simply a way of showing our love.  When two people fall in love, it’s a feeling so powerful that they would do anything – everything – for the other person, no matter how crazy or foolish it looks to others.  Whatever you do this lent, do it in absolute Love.
Look at the letter E.  This stands for eating.  Can I eat just a little bit less because of the Love I have for God. Fasting and abstaining from meals are required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for the majority of us.  Yet what if we would eat a little less and abstain from meat on another day of the week as well?  This is an action which is both physically and spiritually beneficial.  By eating less, can we hunger for God more?
Third is the Letter N.  The letter N is for ‘near’; my God, my Lord, I know you are near to me.  We’re never as brave as when we’re with someone else.  Maybe we are showing off; trying to show that we’re tough, to prove that some little thing isn’t going to bother us.  Maybe if the other person isn’t showing fear, then we  won’t let them know that we’re a little afraid.  If we keep in mind that Our God is always near us, with us, perhaps we will remember the 23rd Psalm - the Lord is my shepherd, and there is nothing I will fear.
The last letter in Lent is T.  The letter T is for TRY.  If we don’t try, we will never succeed. Some people would even say the first step to success is to try. Try to be a little kinder to the people around you.  Try not to judge.  Try not to criticize.  Try to be calmer.  Try to be more forgiving or compassionate.To try is not always to succeed, but to try is to aim us in the direction we want to go.
L-E-N-T!  You can put your own meanings to those four letters – whatever works for you. During Lent we may want to become a better person, a noble and worthwhile pursuit. Yet during Lent perhaps the more important desire is to  develop a closer and more meaningful relationship with God; all in because I LOVE GOD.

January 2021
By the time this is posted, it will be the first week of January 2021.  Most of the Christmas trees will be taken down with their lights and ornaments put away and stored ‘till next yearWhile the thoughts, memories and the angst of 2020 are being pushed to the ash-heap of history, the hopes, expectations, and dreams of this coming year are still fresh and vibrant.
After the challenges of this past year, what will we personally do to make the new year better?  What are some of the interactions that we’ve perhaps missed this past year that we’d like to strengthen in future weeks and months.  After all, we’ve experienced a pretty heavy dose of isolation – even quarantine – an absence from many friends, even with close family over the holidays - and now we need to continue to be careful for an even longer period of time.  As a public person, I speak from the experience of knowing the burden that would have been placed on others, on a number of different levels, if I had been infected and needed to quarantine myself.  Like many other people, my life has been changed in this lack of personal contact.  Perhaps we’ve had a heavy dosage of zooming, trading e-mails, speaking on the phone, but nothing beats the pleasure of going out to the movies, going out to dinner, or just being close with people without having to wear a face mask.  How many of us still worry about touching a doorknob or some other common object just touched by a stranger?
As we charge into this new year, what can we personally do to make it better?  So many of our resolutions fall by the wayside.  But in this interval before widespread vaccinations take place, perhaps we would consider the following which might continue throughout the year.
Let us be a little kinder to each other.  In recent times of tragedy – and yes, I would call the number of deaths in this country a national tragedy – there was an almost universal effort to go the extra mile.  The signs of support for doctors, nurses, EMT and emergency first responders, medical professionals, need to return.  Remember the clapping and honking in processions for birthdays and graduations.  Being separated for a time led us to be more inventive in showing our gratitude.  Let’s become more inventive and more demonstrative in showing our kindness to one another.
Let us be a little blinder to the faults of those around us.  We have faults and failings – everyone does, and we all know what they are.  Some things you just can’t overlook and must correct, yet the majority of things that annoy us and cause us to lash out can and perhaps should be overlooked.  There are so many SMALL things to which we react in annoyance.  Can we tell ourselves that perhaps we’re the ones over-reacting and that our annoyance isn’t in proportion to dirty dishes being left in the sink or sneakers being shucked by the front door?  There is a commercial for a room spray that says that a person has gone “nose-blind” to the odors around them.  Could we start to become “critical-blind” to some of those annoyances around us?
Could we, perhaps, be a little more complimentary as a supplement to the above.  Everyone likes to be praised; everyone likes to be noticed; everyone likes to be thanked.  Life becomes so much smoother when one compliment or unexpected thank you, leads to one in return.  I make you feel good about yourself – and wow, now you’re making me feel good about myself!
And finally, let’s pray a little more; let’s talk to God a little more consistently throughout the day.  We talk on our phones more than ever before; and we text about the most inane and unimportant things at any particular moment.  I think you all have gotten some communication that you really didn’t need to know.  Instead, let’s spend a little more casual time with God.  Let’s tell God all the things that nobody else really cares about.  Let’s tell Our Father all our disappointments, all the things that make us smile, all our hopes and fears, all our needs, all the inner hurts and secrets that we can’t tell anyone else.  Our God wants and desires that we make time for this encounter above everything else.  If this past year’s sorrows haven’t induced us to more frequent conversations with God, perhaps the need for a successful outcome in overcoming the corona virus can inspire us to truly pray that all the efforts so far, and the efforts to come, will be successful in returning life to “normal”.

Fall 2020
Like most of you, I’m missing the old routine of life – which may have been a little tedious and sometimes a little boring, but nevertheless, fairly safe and secure.  I’d put money on the supposition that we’re all longing for the “good old days” before Covid-19.  At the same time, while enormous adjustments are going to be made as we approach the holiday season for 2020, we are a people who look forward rather than sitting around merely complaining about the present.  I can tell you that we are already making plans for Christmas eve and Christmas day Masses – yet I’ll hold on to that information for a little longer seeing that regulations regarding capacity seem to be changing week by week.  As the old saying goes – we’re hoping for the best but expecting the worst.  We’ll make whatever adjustments are necessary to provide the best sense of reverent worship possible.
And that leads me to the body of this column as we approach the wonderful feast of Thanksgiving.  With all the different travel restrictions that have recently come out, families who are spread out with grown children in college may have to make similar adjustments.  It is hard to think that a loved one can’t be present for the holiday meal and festivities, but that it would be unsafe for various members of the family for them to be there.  That’s a very foreign thought for us who are used to jumping in the car or on an airplane and going wherever we wanted to without a second thought.  This might be the year that we show our familial love in a different way – via zoom or those other notable services which have done very well connecting people.
The Beetles might have sung “All you need is love”, which is quite true, but a care package and some conversation every now and again does not hurt either.  Yes, that’s the love that Jesus speaks about; doing simple things that we usually take for granted, but now with the thought of bringing a smile (and maybe a little sanity) to a person whom we’d like to be with.  Kindness can bring that inner healing especially when we can’t share a hug.   And when we can’t hug, sending a little chocolate is a pretty good substitute.   Another pretty good substitute for a hug is laughter.  There are so many funny cards out there that can bring a smile or a happy tear.  I especially like the “story” about an elderly gentleman being taken to the hospital by his son.  The senior citizen had hit his head and the son was fearful that he might have suffered a concussion.  The emergency room physician asked him a series of questions – “Do you know where you are?” “Sure, Memorial Hospital”. “And what city are we in?”  “We’re in Denver.”  “And what is today’s date?” “The 15th of September”.  As the doctor gets up to leave, he says, “You’re fine, you answered everything correctly”.  The elderly patient replies, “Well, I should, all the answers were posted on the wall behind you”.
We turn to Jesus Christ, Our Brother and Our Lord for strength and comfort in these troubling and challenging times.  Yet I think he would agree that it is just as important to turn to each other for support and solace.  Our faith helps to hold us up.  Our family helps to sustain us both when we’re close and at a distance.  Remembering Mother Theresa, the Saint of Calcutta, little things done with great love can and do change the world.  In these coming days, when we might not be able to travel and entertain as easily as we would like – let’s do those little things with God’s love and change the world one life at a time.

June 2020 - Father's Day
It’s both a privilege and challenge to be a father, more so in the first half of 2020.  I truly respect the fathers of newborn children, wondering, perhaps fearing what effect the corona virus might have on the pregnancy and on this new and precious life.  I only imagine the challenges that dads of young children faced as they did their best to protect, alleviate some of the fears, explain what was happening to impressionable young children.   If adults have been more than a little apprehensive in these past weeks, fathers and mothers deserve more than a pat on the back for all the reassurances they have given.  So many dads have had a new experience of working at home – with their children learning from home.  I pray that this unique experience has brought them even closer together for an extra-special Father’s Day celebration this year.

Fathers and mothers also face the spiritual, moral and ethical challenges that have exploded today.  Let’s face it, the question of both institutional and personal racism is another aspect of life that is forming the attitudes of our children.  Our children look up to their parents for those most formative years in their lives.  Dads and moms are literally their everything – their superheroes who protect, guide and form them.  What dads do and say and are in their eyes, they imitate both consciously and unconsciously.  So in the midst of the protests we’ve seen, the violence we witness, the re-examination of the social conscience of our country, we salute and praise those fathers who are also making a conscious effort to touch the hearts of their children to see all people as persons like themselves.  We honor those fathers who have looked at their own hearts to teach the “Golden Rule” - do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Or conversely - don’t do to other persons what you yourself dislike.

The past number of weeks have prevented families from coming to church together on Sundays.  I would like to thanks those fathers who have such a great and positive influence in getting the family together for the live-streamed masses on Sunday morning and for those recorded masses that could be viewed together at a time of your own choosing.  I thank all those fathers who saw this time of isolation as an opportunity to find times to gather the family to pray together for a release from the dangers of this pandemic.  Encouragement should be given to all those fathers who have assured and reassured their children that what we’ve experienced is not a punishment from God, but part of what we face in nature which is only a little different from hurricanes and tornados and earthquakes.  Perhaps in their prayer wisdom they’ve suggested that God allows these things to happen as a reminder of where we need to turn in times of these calamities.

Fathers also have that responsibility thrust upon them as their children grow and mature and it’s time for them to spread their wings and leave the house for college, work or service to our country.  There is a hole in the life of the family that even the fondest of farewells cannot fill.  We honor all those fathers who impart those words of wisdom and strength to their sons and daughters as they may be marrying and starting families of their own.  On Father’s Day, we also think of all the Fathers who have passed from this life to eternity, but especially those fathers who have succumbed to the corona virus and were unexpectedly taken before their time.  With their wives, their sons and daughters and grandchildren, we share their grief on a Father’s Day that may bring great sorrow rather than celebration.  We turn to our Heavenly Father praying that they be granted eternal rest, eternal peace and joy, eternal life.  This Father’s Day and always, may we turn to Saint Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus for his intercession and prayers.  Let us look to St. Joseph as the inspiration to fathers as being that man who endured many trials and unexpected challenges, yet who trusted that God’s hidden wisdom and will would triumph for a greater good.  HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

June 2020
We're all very much aware of the turmoil in our personal and social lives over the past two months, particularly in the past two weeks...The Covid-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd have changed our lives.  The virus pandemic has taken well over 100,000 lives in our country alone and all the events surrounding the death of Mr. Floyd have taught us a number of extremely important lessons.  Remaining mostly at home has reminded us of everyone’s fundamental need for the love and support of family.  It may have been difficult at times to re-connect with those with whom we should be most connected, but at least for a little time, we’ve been reminded of the absolute need to be close to family and our closest friends. The virus has also reminded us to appreciate and cherish those friends and family we were not able to be with from the beginning of stay-in-place order, until phase one of the reopening of Long Island.  I think that everything we’ve experienced has also reminded us of the necessity for personal prayer and meditation; the need for alone time with God.  I know so many who have mentioned that a pervasive fear dominated their lives in those first weeks when we realized how deadly this pandemic was invading Nassau and Suffolk and our entire nation.  We saw the numbers of death climbing as this virus touched without discrimination our churches, schools, places of work, our homes.  So many – of every faith - have turned to God, asking for a vaccine, asking for a cure, praying that a person they love be spared death.  I doubt that there’s one person on the Island who doesn’t know at least one person who has died because of the virus.  And we continue to pray; that although we are starting to get back to normal, we pray that there be no ‘spike’ in positive cases and deaths which would set us back tremendously.  We continue to pray that we will have a job to return to; we pray that we can pay our bills; we pray that our school will re-open in September. We pray that we have learned once and for all that people are a truly important and significant part of our lives. We pray to acknowledge that we are not in control of all we think we control.

One of the most frightening and insidious dangers of the Covid-19 virus is that there were, and still are, carriers of this virus who go about their daily routine without displaying any symptoms.  Or perhaps because the symptoms were so mild, they didn’t realize that they could infect and possibly through that infection cause the death of another person with whom they had contact.  One of the more frightening and insidious dangers of racism is that often you can’t tell that a person is racist through casual acquaintance.  There are probably some people in our friendships we would not suspect of having a distain or hatred for people of color.  Yet we know that in times of crisis, in times of unexpected pressure a person’s true character comes to the surface.  Perhaps that hatred came from fear or ignorance, yet this racism still has the incapacity to think of that person as a PERSON, AN EQUAL.  It doesn’t really matter why one person may hate an entire race; hate closes the human heart to God’s divine love and where love is absent in a person’s life, God is absent.  The murder of George Floyd has also changed our lives, forcing us to look more deeply within ourselves and to see who we truly are.  Could it be perhaps in the dark corners of our souls that any of us may have racist tendencies?  We have been reminded once again, in our country, the sin of racism is alive and well.  We have seen all too clearly the sin of racism being committed with impunity.

We have seen the protests that are taking place across the nation.  We have seen and heard so many people in our country who will not tolerate the blatant disregard for Black Lives by a number of members in law enforcement.  Those who protest demand change.  This change must come about - and quickly.  Protests have gained an international audience and now is the time for our citizens of every race, creed and background to take the next step to demonstrate that our democracy works.  That next step is through meetings between concerned citizens, local civil officials and police representatives to demonstrate how people of good will can work together to provide community safety, an understanding of each other’s concerns while helping insure equal human rights.  The 95% of those protesting and the 95% of those in law enforcement cannot allow the 5% of radicals on either side to prevent the changes that are needed.

Justice must become - not just a word or a concept – but a reality.  That reality comes about when citizens understand and take hold of their responsibility to nominate and elect local community leaders they know and trust.  The changes we all demand do not become a reality only because of the Federal and State laws that will be passed. Those changes being demanded come about when local officials enforce those laws and ensure that all who ignore or break them are held accountable to the highest degree.  Those changes being demanded come about when local communities band together to help police to understand their frustrations and fears.

While I could continue writing, in the end it comes down to the human heart.  Each human heart must be open to the desire to live in peace and with justice.  Each human heart must know it cannot judge a person by the color of their skin or by the uniform they wear.  Tensions and emotions are high on both sides of the protest lines.  There is a blurred picture when some protesters march peacefully while others take the opportunity to loot; when some police take a knee and others use unjustified force.  Today let us pray and let us act to ensure that no person, no family should suffer what George Floyd and his family suffered.  Let us also pray and act so that no police officer be attacked, knifed, gunned down and ambushed while doing their lawful duty.  May God guide us in the path we must walk together.

May 2020
Have you had enough yet?

These days of covid-19 have extracted a toll on everyone, and to underscore how deeply we’ve been affected, I traded e-mails with a 9/11 tower survivor and this person indicated a greater emotional exhaustion today.  As the events of September 11th are etched in our minds as to where we were and what we were doing when we heard about the suicide attacks, which of us can say the same for the moment when we realized the severity of this invisible attack, not only in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., but all across the nation.

We’ve been scrambling to adjust to a new way of life with our families, separation from our friends and relatives, social distancing, wearing masks and gloves whenever we go outside, worries about our jobs, concerns about being infected and possibly dying, and now newer worries about the food supply chain and the ability to buy those important items that we took for granted just a few months back.

The same person that I indicated above also mentioned that one of the little things that has helped him get this far is the song we’ve all sung many times, “Be Not Afraid”.  And when I asked why this person wasn’t afraid, the answer was that they were still a little afraid – but not nearly as afraid as they probably would be otherwise.  It wasn’t just a case of ‘not being afraid’ of what’s going on – but the reason why fear shouldn’t overwhelm us – “I go before you always”.  Those were the words and the sentiment that makes the difference.  And when Jesus promises to go before us it implies the next line which goes “Come Follow Me”.  Just like we’ve heard from the gospel that the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd and follow because they recognize their protector, and the one who guides them to fertile pasture, so too do we listen to the voice of Jesus, especially as we recently celebrated “Good Shepherd Sunday”.

We’ve heard so many times that we’re all in this together.  So if we’re all together we should take solace that there’s strength in numbers, but also strength from our faith in God.  There are some who claim that everything we’re experiencing is a punishment from God for forsaking the commandments.  Pope Francis has wondered if what we’re experiencing with this previously unknown virus is an natural occurrence for ignoring the health and well-being of our earthly (and only) home.  There are no easy or obvious answers.  There is no one with a magic wand to make it go away, nor someone to wake us from a horrible dream.  There is every indication that there will be a need to change our expectations and our life-styles during the summer and beyond.

Perhaps one of those changes that needs to evolve a little more deeply is two-fold.  First is the acknowledgment of Jesus’ promise that “I am with you always, even until the end of time” (Mt.28:20).  Although we can’t gather physically to come before Him and receive Him in Holy Communion – Jesus is still present to us in the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle.  Jesus is still present to us when at home, our families gather together for a live or taped celebration of Mass, for you are also familiar with His promise that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst”.  Jesus is with you not only in those moments, but each time you come together in prayer.  Yes, he brings us together in prayer – He is with us when we call to Him in prayer.  Second and finally, “Where Charity And Love Prevail, There God Is Ever Found”.  This is a time of being charitable with a depth and generosity that we may not have considered previously.  This is a time of accepting the charity and assistance we might not have needed before.  Yes, in every act of Charity, Jesus is present - because God is love – and where there is love/charity, God is present in the presentation of that gift and in the acceptance of that gift.

Lent 2020
One of our Lenten day by day prayer booklets was entitled, “Open Your Heart To God”.  There’s nothing mysterious about...the title and yet it struck me that this theme isn’t just for the Season of Lent, but for every day of our lives.

When we fall in love with somebody, we react by opening our heart to that person.  We want them to be a part of our inner-most being – we want to be a part of their inner-most being in return.  We want them to know everything about us, and we want to know everything about them.  And when we fall in love, we can overlook certain faults, we can make excuses for them, and we will even bear up and endure under a time they may hurt us, hoping against hope that they won’t hurt us again.

Our God has already opened his heart to us.  And even though we may turn away from God, though we may look to end this relationship, Our God continues to open that divine heart, hurt so often by us, hoping against hope that we will realize that we’ve only been hurting ourselves.

Lent is that beautiful and sometimes exasperating season when the church asks us to look at ourselves in a mirror and to honestly judge what we see.  Lent is that challenging season of making a determination that we will attempt to change what we don’t like seeing in that mirror.

When we fall in love with another person, we will do almost anything to maintain and strengthen that relationship.  A mom or dad seeing the wonder of new life, a new life they’ve created together; a pair of newly-weds discovering that there is so much more to this other person than they initially suspected in this person with whom they want to spend the rest of their life; siblings talking and laughing as they pass into adulthood discovering that their younger or older brother or sister isn’t that pesky and constantly annoying creature sitting next to them in the car.

Lent is a time when we can truly open our hearts to God.  It is a time of discovery not only of the wonder of divine love for us, but the wonder of who we are before God – adopted sons and daughters.  Let us remember how wonderful it was to fall in love; let us act on those memories opening our hearts to the Lord and God who first gave his heart to us.
Christmas 2019
Christmas is the one day that we all look forward to each year.  It doesn’t matter how old and mature, how hard and gristled you’ve become, there’s something about the joy of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning that’s contagious and encourages surrender to child-like wonder.  The lights, Christmas trees, the presents, our interaction with our loved ones are all signs of the SPIRITUAL JOY we embrace in celebrating the birth of the savior – Jesus Christ.

For me, one of the key aspects of the Christmas celebration are the Christmas hymns we sing in church and the personal interpretations of those songs given to us by so many singers over the years.  Silent Night is one of the best loved Christmas hymns, a song, which tradition has it, was hastily written for guitar because the church organ had broken.  The melody and the words are so simple, yet so powerful.  You can listen to arrangements from a choir, a solo trumpet, a harp and flute duet and each can pluck a different emotion from our souls.

“Silent Night!  Holy Night!  All is calm, all is bright”.  Isn’t this what we all seek in our lives?  We all long for a healing silence, a holy silence; a silence which we still can hear that God is whispering to us how precious we are and how much we are loved.   Amid all the hustle and bustle of these past weeks, you and I long for a stillness and a calmness in our hearts which surrounds us and somehow the music becomes an invisible beacon of light piercing our darkness, shattering our apathy.  And the best part is that we want to share this sacred stillness and peace with all we love.  Sometimes the most potent messages are crafted not in words alone, but what we behold from those words.  To say “I Love You” is powerful; but a gentle caress says much more.

Singing this touching hymn, we can picture in our mind’s eye a maiden, oh so barely touching womanhood, holding a sleeping infant on her shoulder.  Perhaps she has a look of shocked and wearied relief as the days of travel and the trials of childbirth have finally come to an end.  No room at the inn, she and her husband are content, even grateful, to be directed to a stable at the edge of the city and to their surprise, shepherds come.  They kneel in the babe’s presence saying that they’ve been directed by angels to come and honor the new-born king.

The wordless invitation to join in this scene ourselves can bring us to another beloved song: JOY TO THE WORLD!  THE LORD IS COME!  Yes, The Lord Is Come; let all the earth receive her king.  How can our hearts not prepare room for him?  In our sorrow, in any distress and pains we may be suffering, this Infant King comes to us as a weak baby and yet is the very healing, the comfort we’ve been waiting, praying and hoping for.  We think to hold the infant; in fact, it is the infant who embraces us and imbues an aura of solace and peace.  This is heaven embracing earth.  This is God embracing woman and man.  This is the wonder of Divine Love.  The King becomes a pauper; Almighty God becomes fragile man.  The sinless takes on the sins of the world and we sinners become the saved!

What is my favorite Christmas Hymn?  Although it’s difficult to pick one from the great classics like O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, I suggest that really listening the words of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing can melt any frozen heart.

“…Peace on earth and Mercy Mild, God and sinners reconciled…Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die…”  We long for peace, reconciliation, eternal life.  This is what my prayer and my wish for you is this Christmas and always – The Peace of Christ which nothing and no one else in the world can give.  I pray and wish that anyone separated from their loved ones on earth and the love of God be reunited in joy.  I pray and wish that this year’s celebration of the birth of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, lead you more firmly on the road to eternal life.  BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO ALL!  JOY TO THE WORLD!
There’s a very old joke about the boy throwing the alarm clock out the window because he wanted to see ‘time fly’. It seems like just yesterday that we were sending the kids off to their first day of school and now the leaves are turning color, falling and our hearts and thoughts are tuned to Thanksgiving and beyond.  I’ve heard dozens of people say, “I can’t believe it’s already November.  This year is flying by faster than ever”.

The passage of time is something we can’t control – to an extent ‘time’ has control over us.  We’re limited in the number of things we can do every day; we don’t have the ‘time’ to do all the things we desire.  This is not an observation just for our current age.  In the second letter of Peter we find, “But there is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, ‘a day’ can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day”.  And in this letter, Peter himself is quoting Psalm 90.

I believe that these words are reminder for us not to put off to tomorrow what we truly need to do today – to become closer in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  I find that too many people say that they don’t have time for Sunday Mass, they don’t have time to pray, they don’t have time to strengthen their relationship which is unique – no one has the exact same relationship – because there are too many other things in the way.

The events that we witness in our world, the tensions we experience in our church, perhaps even the conflicts and pressures that are a part of our own family life, truly confirm that this is not the time to be standing alone – that we need a closer and more intimate relationship with God to successfully navigate all that confronts us because otherwise we are prone to apathy and despair.

The Old Testament Book of ECCLESIASTES reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun – that is that all we experience has been known by every generation before us going all the way back to the beginning of time.  The author observes that there is a time for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven.  There is a time to be born, a time for dying; a time for laughter, a time for mourning.  There is a time for speaking and a time for silence; a time even for war and a time for peace.

With this in mind, may we remember that there is always a time for prayer, time to spend with God because God is eternal.  Although ‘time’ has no meaning for God – an everlasting present – no past/no future – we are mortal beings.  We have a definite beginning and a definite end.  Too many people have begged for one final wish within that lifespan – “Please give me a little more time”.

Is time running out?  That I don’t know.  What I do know is the time is now – now is the proper time, now is the proper hour, for us to gather together in prayer and worship to pray for one another, for healing, for comfort, and yes, to pray for holiness.  The prayer of Our Mass – the prayer of Jesus Christ himself – is a prayer for unity – A Comm-union with our God and with one another.  We are “One Bread – One Body”.  There is truth to the saying that when we pray by ourselves, we pray alone.  That when we pray with others, each is praying with us and for us and in this unity, we pray more strongly for one another.  For each person, there is indeed a time for solitude.  Yet perhaps more importantly, this is the time for unity in prayer that we might together ask God’s guidance to lead us safely through these tumultuous times.

Summer 2019
I’m told that my last letter was around Eastertide and that seems like a very long time ago.  This is my 14th letter on the website, my latest attempt to share the message of the gospel with as many people as possible who might log on – either accidentally or purposefully.

It is summer and as I write, the forecast is for at least three days of hot, humid, weather with hazy sunshine with temperatures in the 90’s.  And unless you’re blessed with being in an air-conditioned place (and hopefully most of us are) these can be long and miserable days of feeling blah, with tempers as hot as the thermometer and sweat pouring down your forehead into your eyes with the least little movement.

If you’ve heard the expression ‘hot as hell’, it’s an apt saying - as the summer season is the appropriate time to think of our spiritual state as we try to keep our physical bodies comfortable.  We don’t like to talk about Hell.  It makes us uncomfortable - as well it should.  But Jesus speaks not only about the reality of the devil, he also speaks about the fires of Gehenna.

We remember the story in Luke’s Gospel (16:18) about the rich man and Lazarus.  After they both die, we hear that the rich man suffered the torment of Hades and asks that Lazarus dip his finger in water to cool his tongue for “I am in agony in these flames.”  We know that the rich man was NOT condemned for being rich but for not sharing his blessing with the poor.

In Mark’s Gospel (9:47-48), Jesus speaks about those things that lead us to sin.  If you hand or foot or eye should cause you to sin, it is better to get rid of them and to enter the Kingdom of Heaven maimed or crippled or blind than to be “thrown into hell where the worm does not die nor the fire go out.”  Here Jesus is using what is known as Semitic Exaggeration to remind us that even though doing harm to one’s self is evil, it is still not as bad as what hell is.

Although the famous scene of St. Matthew’s description of the Final Judgment does not mention the fires of hell, it is obvious that Jesus is speaking about eternal punishment.  The bottom line is simple, however.  Gehenna, Hell, Hades, the realm of Satan is to be avoided at all costs; the loss of the Kingdom of God for all eternity is itself Hell.

For those times that we suffer physically – from the heat and humidity, from a physical injury, from mental anguish - any of these cannot begin to compare with the spiritual suffering we will experience if we do not live by Jesus’ words.  “This is my commandment – Love one another as I have loved you”.  We literally cannot imagine the extreme horrors of what Hell is like just as St. Paul remarks in his First Letter to the Corinthians that the wonders of heaven are beyond us as well.  “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard nor has it entered the mind of man of the things God has prepared for those who love Him’”.

Let us pay attention to our physical discomforts in life so that we may one day know the truth of Paul’s words in death!

Easter 2019
EASTER!!! The most dramatic event in Human History – the most unwitnessed event in Human History.  
Think about it – no one actually saw Jesus rise from the grave.  So many Easter Cards portray Jesus, glorious, holding a staff with a flag of victory waving in a gentle breeze.  While the Resurrection of the Son of God may have occurred in this fashion, that actual moment is beyond human recognition.  That moment when Christ rose gloriously from the sleep of death is a DIVINE MOMENT beyond human definition.  EASTER IS A GOD MOMENT when we are promised a similar divine moment – for all eternity.

All the encounters of Jesus with his disciples were AFTER the experience of the empty tomb.  Actually, this should not at all surprise or shock us.  Most of us have a very dramatic and Hollywood image of Jesus rising from the dead.  Yet, as with his birth, when the great majority of the population of Bethlehem was asleep and had no idea that the Son of God was born in a stable, here too, despite numerous times when Jesus said that the Son of Man must suffer and die and on the third day rise again, his disciples did not camp out opposite the cave in joyful expectation.  Rather, they locked themselves away in the upper room, fearing for their own safety.

If we go to the end of the 27th Chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel, after Jesus is entombed on Good Friday, the Chief Priests and Pharisees ask Pilate to place a guard at the tomb to ensure that the disciples of Jesus do not steal the body with the claim that he had just risen as he preached (Mt27:62-66).  Matthew records for us that as the women approached the tomb an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled away the boulder and sat on it, scaring the guards so badly they were like dead men.

If we go to the 16th chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel, the women encounter an angel who tells them that though they are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, he is risen, he is not here, and to go to his disciples and Peter to tell them he will meet them in Galilee.  And yet perhaps one of the most beautiful lines in the resurrection narratives (at least for me) is found in the Gospel of Luke 24:5. WHY LOOK FOR THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD?  HE IS NOT HERE; HE IS RISEN.

It is a simple statement by an angel to the women who had come to anoint His body, yet dramatic and forceful.  None of our notions of that Easter Morning can compare to the reality of the Power of God – the Power of God’s Love.  No matter what we may imagine about Jesus rising from the tomb – our imaginations fail; we can’t quite grasp the enormity of what happened to Jesus – what will happen to us!  In his 1st letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes that ‘eye has not seen, ear not heard, nor the mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.’  The Love of Jesus for His Father was Perfect – It is that same LOVE FOR US that will bring us to Perfection as well.
Fr. Ken

Past Website letters from Fr. Ken