From Father's Desk

From Father's Desk

From Fathers Desk web

Dear Parish Family,

Our Saint this week is Padre Pio, a beautiful example of the priesthood as we honor Christ the King of the Universe. Padre Pio is a saint for our times. He endured so much and never lost hope. We may have asked ourselves if God is punishing us with the pandemic. This crisis seems not so much a direct castigation, as an opportunity for reform and renewal. We are surely being shaken up, or resisting that turmoil. But resistance to the restrictive social guidelines only serves to prolong their duration.

Regarding trials, Padre Pio was an expert. He once said, “Thank and sweetly kiss the hand of God that strikes you, because it is always the hand of a Father who strikes you because he loves you.” These words from a man who bore the wounds of Christ in his body for 50 years! He was deeply united to Christ, making his advice uniquely powerful. Pio invites us to receive this world-wide contagion as from the hand of God who is Love.

My Dear Spiritual Family,

This week we encounter not one Saint but a family of Saints. Thérèse of Lisieux, that powerful Doctor of the Church who reframed our spirituality by her doctrine of humble confidence and comes from a family of holy folk. Her parents, Louie and Zelie Martin were canonized in 2015 by Pope Francis. The same year the process began to discern the canonization of one of her elder sisters, Léonie Martin, now a Servant of God.

Pauline was the first sister to enter the Carmel of Lisieux. Three sisters followed: Louise, Thérèse and Celine. By contrast, Leonie sought out religious life several times but never remained in the convent. She finally gained the confidence to enter with the Visitation Sisters in 1899, two years after Therese had passed. She took the name Françoise-Thérèse, in memory of her baby sister Therese, who had taught her through letters the way of confidence and love. Léonie is sometimes known as the “difficult sister” but does not mean that folks with challenging personalities are not called to be saints.

My Dear Parish Family,

This article was composed before election day, so please forgive if it is not so timely. I invite you, as always, to participate in our public life as Catholics who do not place our Faith alongside other issues, but who wholeheartedly make our Faith the lens through which reality is perceived and the Kingdom advanced. Jesus taught, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” not just for Christians but for all humanity. As Catholic Christians we have the obligation to make the beauty of the truth known, loved and embraced throughout the world. Sadly in the past generation or so, of which I am a part, secularism and relativism have advanced at a rapid pace especially in these great United States of America. My firm prayer is that “the dogma may live deep in us,” and radiate out from us, like a beacon on a hill.

This is week two of our Message Series on the Saints. We highlight Mother Teresa, or Saint Teresa of Calcutta. She was a beacon on a hill, a radiant and glowing light of love that shone for the world to see. Mother Teresa is proof that one life lived passionately and zealously with deep love for God and neighbor can change the world. Her life began in Albania, and while the majority was spent in India, by the end she had visited most of the world. Saint Teresa is a true missionary.

Dear Parish Family,

I am excited to inaugurate a message series on the Saints, on this Solemnity of All Saints. November 1st is a day to commemorate all those holy ones who share in the radiance of the Father’s glory in Heaven. If our loved ones are home with God, then they are saints. Heaven is the eternal home of saints. In Paul’s letters he often refers to Christians as “the holy ones” or “the saints,” depending on the translation. Yet often we do not think of ourselves or our loved ones that way. But so it is.

In fact, tomorrow - All Souls Day - and over the next nine days, a novena of Masses will be offered for all of our beloved dead. We are lifting them up in prayer to the Father, seeking that the grace of Christ purify them of anything that would prevent them from entering the realm of the perfect in Heaven. We offer the holy Mass, our most powerful prayer, that the grace of Christ’s perfect self-offering be applied to their souls. With this novena of Masses we are speeding our loved ones home to Heaven, ensuring they will be named “saints among the saints in the halls of Heaven,” as the priest prays in one of our Eucharistic Prayers.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

One weekend a year we share the Annual Financial Report. While some may prefer not to speak of money in church, it is valuable to know how our parish is doing, from a fiscal perspective. There are probably even more questions this year, with the school closing and the pandemic. Over the course of this past year, rumors cropped up like dandelions and spread on the winds of uncertainty. Alone I cannot say or do enough to dispel them. The best way to root them out is for our whole parish family to be well-informed. We can weed out the rumors together!

God has been good to our parish. Two surprise gifts really helped us in the middle of the pandemic. First, we received a generous gift of $75,000 from Saint John Parish in Lakehurst NJ. (Fr. Bernie moved to St. John’s from OLPH and then retired from there a few years back. My friend, Fr. Jim O’Neill is the pastor there now. I know he would be happy to hear how grateful we are for his parish’s generosity. Feel free to send him a note: Saint John’s Parish / 619 Chestnut St / Lakehurst, NJ 08733). Second, with guidance from our diocese we applied for and received the PPP loan for $170,000. This loan is NOT reflected in our annual financial report figures. We anticipate that the loan will be fully forgiven. Those two surprise infusions were a real Godsend for us.

Dear Parish Family,

Last week we wrapped up our five-week message series on Home Life. Beginning on November 1st, All Saints Day, we plan to spend a month with the Saints, learning from them some of the secrets of the Christian Life.

We are also already making plans for the Christmas Season. Last year, our Mass schedule was as follows: Christmas Eve: 4pm, 6pm, 8pm and Christmas Day: 10am and 12pm. At the 4pm Mass, 870 people worshipped. We need to prepare to accommodate more of our parish family in person. One possibility this year is 2pm Christmas Eve Mass, for which our Bishop has given special permission. We are also planning for overflow downstairs in Nolan Hall. We may even offer sign-ups for the most popular Masses. At this point these are all possibilities. Please stay-tuned for a survey via FlockNote to get your input! We want to hear from you. If you are not yet on FlockNote, text OLPHMS to 84576.

Dear Parish Family,

Over the course of this Message Series, we have tried to focus on Home Life, not only our residences (After all, home is where you hang your hat!) but also our spiritual home, (our parish) and our eternal home (God-willing in the mansions of the Saints in

heaven)! As we have tried to flesh out the ingredients for a fruitful and peaceful home life, we recognize that those same ingredients prepare our hearts for our final abode in Heaven.

Today we focus on our permanent dwelling place. During this time of illness and loss, it is ever more apparent that earth is not our permanent home. “On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever,” sings the prophet Isaiah. The veil that shields our eyes from the greater hidden realities, will be lifted; tears wiped away. From the mount of Calvary, where our sweet Jesus offers himself to destroy the plague of death that afflicts humanity, the gates of paradise are once again opened to those washed in the blood and water that flows from his pierced side.

Dear Family in Christ,

Over the past few weeks we have been hearing a lot of positive encouragement from Saint Paul. While at times he does admonish his churches quite strongly, often he is encouraging, affirming, bolstering. A friend of mine likes to say, “Find out what works and do more of that!” Paul tells his communities: “Yes, yes! More of that!!” Last week the emphasis was on humility, harmony or unity, and selflessness (we might say being big-spirited aka magnanimous!).

Today, Paul reminds us to do two things. First, put away our anxiety and turn to prayer: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” We can put away our worries, fears, and nerves, by simply turning to the Lord in prayer. Lift it up in prayer. This sounds like the sage advice of Saint Padre Pio, “Pray, hope and don’t worry!” (We will be hearing more from Padre Pio in November, when we spend a month with the Saints!)

My Dear Parish Family,

“But Dad, it's not my turn!” “I don’t care whose turn it is, I am asking you to do it.” Ever have an interaction like that in your house? “Not my turn” - drove my dad up a wall, and down the other side. Definitely NOT the correct answer. What’s the correct answer, “Yes, Dad.” We all knew the correct answer, but we often did not give it.

One of the worst things my Mom ever did was begin to pay us for doing chores. Great error, this. A quarter for this, fifty cents for that, a dollar for the really hard stuff - like mowing the grass. Not large sums, but attached payment to participation in the duties of family life. When Mom failed to pay us, or failed to keep up with the whole process (the accounting was intense!) all chores grounded to a halt. We did nothing! Whereas before, we helped when asked, now if not compensated we became ingrates. This phenomenon is not reserved to our family. It is well-known in token economy research. If the reward schedule is not maintained, it falls apart. While perhaps fitting for chronic psychotic inpatients in mental hospitals, in real life too many variables exist for a token economy to be maintained long term. It would have been more prudent for Mom to have promised us $5 a month if and when we completed the list of tasks she set aside for us. Think of this as the difference between salaried employees and piece workers.

My dear Parish Family,

Last week we began a new Message Series on “Home Life.” We will be dwelling on how to improve our family life together. Most of us are spending more time at home so it is a valuable and worthy undertaking. We will also seek to shed light on and explore the relationships between our other homes: our parish home and our permanent home, with God in heaven. We kicked off the series by drawing some parallels between our worship together as a parish family and our family life at home. We dug into Mass as Mercy, Meditation and Meal, and the essentials of Family: Forgive, Focus and Feast. These pairs go together in order to foster a more joyful, peaceful and wholesome life at home.