Friday, January 28, 2011

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year – A - 2011

When I was a child my family always went on summer vacation to Florida.

My father loved Florida and we would drive three days from Buffalo to get there.

The scene was always the same.
My Mom would sit in the front with a little book called the trip-tick.

She held that trip-tick the all the way from Buffalo to Sarasota trying to figure out where we were.

Believe it or not 95 was not completed back then so we used to take US 1 or Route 301.

There was no little box that sat on the dash board saying
turn right, turn left, or recalculating when you made a wrong turn.

Sometimes we got very lost.

Roads are pretty important
If you choose the right one it gets you were you want to go.

If you are on the wrong one you end up in a completely different place then you intended.

If I get on 91 north and don’t get off I know I will get to Springfield
If I get on 91 south and don’t get off I know I will end up in New Haven

The gospel today presents us with some roadmaps to heaven.
Jesus desperately wants us all to find our way home.

With the Beatitudes he shows which roads to take.

The first road is called “being poor in spirit.”
The poor of spirit those who know that they are indeed dependent on God or know they need God.

If we don’t know that we need God,
if we travel through life doing whatever we please,
if we don’t recognize that only God can show us the way to Him,
It is so easy to get lost.

The world is filled with people who have lost their way or taken the wrong road because they don’t know God.

Blessed are the poor in spirit who know they must and can depend on God.

Those who mourn are those who realize that they have made poor choices in life.
Many people go through life never figuring that out.

They are angry and upset and hurt when they never really get where they want to go.

They don’t realize that they have continually taken wrong turns and made bad choices.

Knowing that you have made a mistake and being sorry is very important.

A person who isn’t sorry is very likely to make the same wrong turns over and over again frequently these sad people take others with them.

Sorrow and guilt in the proper context are not bad things..
Sometimes people joke about Catholic guilt.

To be honest I am grateful for the gift of Catholic guilt in my life
It has helped me repent of my sins and find my way to the right road.

In the proper proportion guilt and shame are not always bad things.
Blessed are those who mourn indeed.

When Jesus speaks about the meek many people fail to really understand what he is talking about.

Somehow we have come to understand a meek person as a person who just puts up with things or someone who is long suffering a wimp if you will.

When Jesus spoke of the meek the scholars tell us that he was really talking about those who never give up, who simply persevere no matter what.

People who are meek
don’t give up on a problem child, they don’t give up on their marriage, they don’t give up on a difficult job, and they don’t give up on God.

The meek are willing to look a challenge in the eye.
Blest are the meek for the will inherit the land.

Have you ever been hungry, I mean really hungry?
Have you ever been thirsty, really thirsty?

In our country and in our times many people have never really experienced hunger or thirst.

When someone is really hungry or thirsty the desire to eat or to drink kind of overwhelms you, it’s all you can think about.

When we really hunger for righteousness,
when we really thirst for holiness,
when the desire for both consumes like hunger and thirst,
only then us can we really make progress on the road home to God.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Let’s look at one more…

The last beatitude is perhaps the most powerful and the most challenging.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.

Finally, for some or maybe for most of us there will be a moment in our lives when our faith calls us to stand up and suffer insults or persecution.

If we truly live our faith sometimes we make ourselves to be a sign of contradiction and people notice.

Sadly, a loving,
compassionate, merciful,
faithful, holy man or woman
can stick out in a world which values other things.
When this happens persecution can follow.
Why does that surprise us?

Jesus himself suffered persecution because he loved.
Why would we expect anything else.

And when we accept our suffering, when we offer it up… our powerful witness can help bring others to faith.

Want to get to heaven ?
Blest are those who know they need God

Blest are those who are sorry for their sins

Blest are those who never give up trying to be holy.

Blest are those who hunger and thirst for goodness and God.

Blest are those who are blest to carry the cross of persecution like Jesus

Holy Ones…

If we follow these roads God’s roads faithfully one day we will find ourselves home.

If we don’t we won’t


Friday, January 21, 2011

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C – 2010

May the peace of Christ Reign in our hearts,

The Word of God speaks to every age.
And today’s second reading speaks directly to some of the challenges we face today.

In his first Letter to the Church in Corinth
Paul writes to a divided community a community with many factions.

While some members of the community are sincere,
Sadly its seems that pride and ego were at the root of many of the division in the community in Corinth.

There were leaders in the Church and  each leader was vying for followers and importance.

The divisions were so deeply rooted that sadly the members of the community began to identify themselves with “their leader” rather than Christ.

“I follow Peter, I follow Apollo” they said.

Something is wrong when personal preference, and personal loyalties supersede fidelity to Christ and fidelity to the Gospel.

Today these words ring so true. While we know longer identify ourselves with different leaders many of us choose to identify themselves with different theologies and liturgical preferences.

Today we hear things like…
I don’t like it when people hold up the line and kneel for communion
Or we hear…
I like to pray in Latin
Or we hear…
I want women priests
Or we hear…
I only like contemporary music
Or we hear
I only like the organ played in church

Or we hear…
I am conservative
Or we hear…
I am a liberal Catholic
Or we hear…
I and I and I and I

In so many respects we are like the Corinthians in the time of St. Paul

We the body Christ have divided ourselves into little factions or cliques each so sadly prone to begin our sentences with I.

Happily I have not found too much of this here at St. Paul.

It is my hope that in our parish we will strive for unity rather than division, communion rather than factions.

Unity and communion can only find their source in faithfulness.

When we strive to be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
when we strive to be faithful to the teaching of the Church given to us by Jesus Christ disunity and divisions will cease.

In the Gospel, Jesus said
“You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.”

Today the unity of the Church is still protected and nurtured by the ministry of St. Peter in the person of our Holy Father.

St. Ambrose in the 4th Century so proudly proclaimed
“Where there is Peter there is the Church.”

Obviously he was not speaking only of St. Peter but everyone who would follow him as Bishop of Rome.

Our unity, the unity of the Church is rooted in fidelity.
faithfulness to the Word of God, present in the Scriptures,
faithfulness to Sacred Tradition, protected and nurtured in the magisterium or teaching authority of the Church.

Holy Ones,
It’s a big Church
Some may kneel, and some may stand
Some may like Latin and some may run and hide from it
Some may like guitars and others will prefer Gregorian chant.
I could go on and on and so could you.

We can’t let these things divide us.
We can’t let them pull us apart.

Love is self giving.
Pridefulness and egos are self seeking>

Let us strive with all of our hearts to avoid the weaknesses of the Corinthians

The weaknesses which concerned St. Paul so much that love compelled him to write them a letter.

If we are faithful to the Teaching of Christ
and if we remain faithful to His Church

We will always be in communion


Friday, January 14, 2011

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2010

agneau (1)May the Peace of Christ Reign in our hearts.

Tradition has it that John the Baptist and Jesus were somehow related.

So in today’s Gospel it seems strange when John the Baptist says that he did not know Jesus.

Maybe what he meant to say was that  he wasn’t sure what role Jesus had in God’s plan.
He wasn’t sure if Jesus was the Messiah.

But when he saw the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus in the Jordan, and when he heard the voice of the Father,
John began a process of discipleship which every follower of Christ, and every human being is called to follow.

And so John made a bold profession of faith when he called Jesus the Lamb of God.

  • By calling Jesus the Lamb of God John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus to the Passover Lamb,
    whose blood sprinkled on the door posts, saved Israel from death.
  • By calling Jesus the Lamb of God
    John the Baptist professed that it would be Jesus to reconcile humanity with God.
  • By calling Jesus the Lamb of God he identified Jesus with the suffering servant of whom the prophet Isaiah had spoken of.

And in doing so he professed that Jesus would not be a triumphant Messianic King but rather a suffering servant who would save the world with His love and sacrifice.

When John understood who Jesus really was,
when John was sure that Jesus was indeed the Lamb of God he began surrender himself to Jesus.

He surrendered his will.
He surrendered his plan, and even his friends and his disciples.
He surrendered everything he had and everything he was to God’s will.

Remember John’s famous words…

“I must decrease he must increase.”

John’s example shows us that when a person meets Christ and falls in love with Jesus Christ their life will never be the same.

Everything is seen in a new and very different light.

You know its amazing that we priests aren’t holier.

We meet holy, very holy, people almost every day I wish some would rub off.

One day I was walking in the hospital and there were a bunch of people sitting in the area of New Britain General where the families wait when new babies are coming.

So you know me.
You’ll always hear me before you see me.

When I saw them I yelled out look at this beautiful family waiting for their new born baby.

The people responded that they were not waiting for a baby but that they had a family member was down critical care.

As I was trying to figure how I could get my foot out of my mouth a woman came up to me and said,

‘‘Father go down and pray with her. Please go down and say some prayers we are  not Catholic but we believe in prayer.”

I went down into critical care and found the room.

When I stood in the door
I saw a woman on a ventilator and a man sitting next to her holding her hand.

When I knocked on the door and  explained how I had been sent.
The man gladly received me and we prayed for his wife.

As I was leaving the man stopped me and said

Sir I’m sure you’ll agree when you are a Christian you can’t lose.

  • If my wife gets better I will have some more time with her and that will make me happy.
  • If God calls her home to Himself and she goes to her heavenly reward that will also make me happy.

I know Jesus Christ and so does my wife.
The way I see it we just can’t lose.

There was a man,
there was a couple,
there was a family,
who like John the Baptist came to know Jesus as the Lamb of God and their lives would never be the same

Holy Ones….
Everyday God reveals himself to us,
and once we understand,
once we are sure that  Jesus is indeed
the Lamb of God,
our life will never be the same.

And so the questions of the week must be
Do we know Jesus Christ?
Do we know the Lamb of God?
Do we believe he takes away the sins of the world,
or are we still afraid that we can loose?

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world have mercy on us
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world have mercy on us
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world Grant us peace.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Baptism of the Lord Year A–2011

Baptism of ChristMay the Peace of Christ reign in our Hearts,

For many years Jesus lived a normal life.
He learned a trade.
He loved and supported his Mom.

The scriptures tell us that in those 30 years before his baptism He grew in wisdom and understanding.

Slowly but surely, He grew to understand who he was and what he was called to do.

Then one day God moved in His heart and He presented Himself to John to be baptized,
from that moment his life was changed forever.
The years of preparation were over.
The quiet years of family life in Nazareth were gone.

Sometimes in the three years which followed Jesus would not even have time to see his mother and relatives. (Mt 12:46-50)

His task was urgent and all consuming.
There were souls to save.
The kingdom had to be proclaimed.
The sick had to cured,
the hungry fed.
and the cross carried.

By his life he taught us how to live, by his death he taught us how to love and freed us from our sins.

If you read Gospel carefully
Three things happened after Jesus was baptized

•    The heavens were ripped open and God and mankind were no longer separated.

•    Holy Spirit in the form of a dove gave Jesus the gifts he needed to complete the Father’s will.

•    After the baptism of Jesus scholars tell us that His unique relationship with God became crystal clear to Him and to others.

After His baptism Jesus understood His mission.
He knew that he was called to be the Suffering Servant that Isaiah spoke about in the first reading.

God made clear to Jesus not only that his mission to redeem the world,
but also that he would accomplish this task with suffering love.

This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
All of us in this Church have been baptized,
and with our baptism we became Sons and Daughters of God.

Our identity, indeed who we are, is rooted in our Baptism.
When we were baptized three things also happened to us.

•    The heavens were open and the sin of Adam was washed away.

•    With our baptism we are given the seven gifts Holy Spirit and at confirmation they are strengthened.
Fear of the Lord

( I was asked the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit on my Priesthood exam and I could only remember 6 lucky I was ordained !)

Finally with our baptism we became the sons and daughters of God.

We must never forget…
we are sons and daughters of God.

And the fact that we are all indeed Sons and Daughters of God means that we are in relationship with each other.

You are my brother and sister because we share the same father in heaven.

A few years ago one of my spiritual directors handed me a small stack of papers.

He told me to put little signs all over my room saying.

They said…
Don’t forget You are God’s Son !

When people came in my room they thought it was weird but those little signs were very effective in reminding me who I was and how I was called to live and love especially after a bad day.

Holy Ones today’s feast reminds us that.

•    God is close to us

•    We have everything we need to live good and holy and loving lives.

•    From our baptism we share a special relationship with God and each other.

No matter what comes our way.

May we never forget who we are and how we are called to live.



A letter to some very important parents

Dear Friends,

It's early in the morning, still dark out, and I just finished praying through the January's parish calendar in our little friary chapel. Frequently, I simply take the calendar of our parish and look through it day by day, placing this event or that meeting in the hands of the Lord.
As you well know, in about two weeks your child will meet the Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. As I tried to point out in my little conversation with you, knowing right from wrong, learning how to say I'm sorry, and being able to accept  forgiveness are essential if one is to live a happy, holy and fulfilling life. The ability to ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness is essential in any good relationship and that includes our relationship with God.

Please do everything you can to help dispel any fear that your children might have about going to confession. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can be and should be a beautiful moment of grace and peace. You can gently and lovingly prepare them for this sacrament by helping them examine their consciences and learn their prayers. Do everything you can to help them come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation confident and without fear.

Please consider teaching by example. I know that some of you have been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation for a long time. I know in my own life, that when I have been away from confession for a while, it has been harder to return. If this is the situation you find yourself in - don't be afraid. Take the step and use this beautiful occasion of your Child's first encounter with our Lord's forgiveness to reestablish in your own life the regular practice of the Sacrament Reconciliation. As I told you during our little talk, I personally receive great consolation and encouragement from the Sacrament of Reconciliation and it is a regular part of my life. Sometimes I try to go to confession on a weekly basis and I always have enough to say.

Now for some practical matters: If you don't remember how to go to confession the priests will help you. As you teach your child how to go to the sacrament it will also serve as a great reminder for you. If you have been away for a while please know that no one will yell at you or keep you in line for a long time. We have several guest priests coming and our only purpose will be to offer you the Lord's forgiveness and encouragement. If you have been away a while please consider coming back.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing your child to religious education and helping to prepare them for the sacraments. God has so much faith in you that He has placed these beautiful little souls in your loving care what an honor and what a daunting task to be sure!

Please be assured of my prayers for you and your child. If you might want to go to confession before the 15th feel free to call the Office and one of us will be happy to talk with you.  

If you have any questions please feel free to click here or call the Religious Education Office at 860-828-1934.

Thinking of you and praying for you
Fr. Robert
Your pastor

PS. - I'm sorry I never got that tape on the web like I promised. I simply couldn't figure out how to edit it.