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Paul Martin

A New Way of Thinking

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Do you ever feel as if you are in a rut? You know, getting up each day and going through the same motions, carrying out all the “stuff” that makes up your day in pretty much the
same way as the day before. And the weekends – well they end in the same direction – repeats of the weekends before, with appropriate seasonal adjustments. Do you imagine this is what life is supposed to be like? I don’t.

Christians look at Easter as the signature event of their faith; this is THE event that changes everything. Yet making the connection between a boring, “same old, same old” way of living and our faith in Jesus may appear to be a stretch. But it is a matter of perspective – how I think about life and the reasons behind everything I am and do. Once a Christian, and that means baptized into Life in Jesus, embraces this amazing status, everything changes. We think differently. We revise the reasons behind our actions in the Light of the Gospel.

From the earliest days the Church calls this personal development “metanoia”. It is the essential formula that changes our lives and opens one to a whole new way of being. For the Christian, there is a continual renewing of life and love – little remains static. In fact our journey “in Christ” is to develop us into an ever deeper relationship with the Son of God, in and through the Holy Spirit. There is NO limit to where this leads, it beckons us each new day into a life that is dynamic, even if our life appears to be routine.

How the Church presents this magnificent and amazing plan to all people is in and through “EVANGELIZATION. Joseph Cardinal Rattinger in an address to catechists and religion teachers in 2000 said: To evangelize means: to teach the art of living. At the beginning of his public life, Jesus says: I have come to evangelize the poor (Luke 4:18); this means: I have the response to your fundamental question; I will show you the path of life, the path toward happiness—rather: I am that path.

The Cardinal continued his comments with these insights: The deepest poverty is the inability of joy, the tediousness of a life considered absurd and contradictory. This poverty is widespread today, in very different forms in the materially rich as well as the poor countries. The inability of joy presupposes and produces the inability to love, produces jealousy, avarice—all defects that devastate the life of individuals and of the world. This is why we are in need of a new evangelization—if the art of living remains an unknown, nothing else works. But this art is not the object of a science — this art can only be communicated by [one] who has life—He who is. May the saving message of Jesus Christ bring us into the light with new insights to address the pressing issues of our time about the “Art of Living”.


Fr. Ronan

Fifth Sunday of Easter -May 14/15, 2022

In today’s Gospel Jesus makes a bold and clear statement to his disciples. “I
give you a new commandment: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We are called to love others as a sign of our discipleship in Jesus Christ.
That includes even those “others” we might prefer to forget.
We are so often tempted to draw lines between those who we will love and those who we consider not worthy of
our love. This week take time to reflect on Jesus’ love command.
How often do we heed Jesus’ love command?
What change in our lives must take place in order for us to obey this command?

What Makes You Happy?

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Kind of an interesting question, don’t you think? I wonder if each of us would answer in different ways. Would the answer of a child be different from that of a teenager or an adult? How about the response of an 80-year-old person – would it be very different from that of a 30 something? I wonder how my answer to this question has changed over the years. I mean there was a time when my graduate education and career were uppermost in my mind. Another chapter when my social life had high priority.

Is the “happiness” thing a sliding scale, changing from day to day or week to week or in different stages of our lives? I ask the question because these past weeks the readings at Mass in this Easter season have provoked me to wonder why I am happy and what causes my happiness. For example, we have been hearing how the Apostles Peter & John had been arrested and told to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. The early Christian community was on a collision course with religious and civic leaders of that time. Nonetheless, Peter & John and the others rejoiced that they had been found worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus!

One of the best-known persecutors of the early Christians was Saint Paul. However, after Paul’s conversion his whole life became one of service to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His own will was so impacted by love of Christ that it became configured to Christ’s will. This harmony of wills, fueled by love, explained Paul’s amazing and ever present Joy, even in the midst of suffering of all kinds. Paul would go on to write that his life included times of wealth and of poverty, times of hunger and of abundance, times of success and of failure and he had come to regard everything as having little value other than his relationship with Christ.

Perhaps it is, therefore, that the only common denominator in life that brings happiness to any person at any stage, is the presence of love. Not a love that is very self-serving, rather a mature love that is more other-centered. Again, Paul wrote elegantly of this as well; If I achieve everything that this world has to offer, with out love, I gain nothing. He concludes his marvelous treatise on love as follows: When I was a child I used to talk like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways aside … There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13).

Each day of our lives there is something in front of us that promises happiness; more often than not, it includes everything from a laxative to a Cadillac. Sure, there is stuff that can be pleasing and meet passing needs and desires. However, true happiness, well that is something more. As St. Paul reveals, it is enduring, regardless of circumstances or stages of life. In fact, it sustains us throughout our life journey.

The whole world is searching for happiness – frenetically it seems. St. Paul found the answer and it is offered to each of us every day.

Fr. Ronan

Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 7/8, 2022

Jesus, the “Good Shepherd,” makes a promise in today’s Gospel to those who hear his voice and
follow him. He promises them eternal life. Amidst all the other voices that clamor for attention in
their daily lives, the voices that make demands, give advice, seek to persuade or like to gossip,
Good stewards listen for the Good Shepherd’s voice.
The other voices are legion and we do not always recognize how contrary they are to the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Good stewards know that it takes a compassionate heart, a habit of prayer, a hunger for the Eucharist and a love of neighbor for
them to truly hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.
What might we do in our daily lives to prepare us to more authentically hear the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Prayer for Mothers

A Season for Everything

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The springtime blossoms bursting with soft white flowers along Winthrop Street cast a festive glow over the Training Field. At the moment I am writing, families are gathered with
small children on blankets as a troubadour serenades the gathering and the kids sing along. Seasons changing is one of the many blessings of life in New England.

Yet the metaphor of changing seasons extends beyond climate and weather. The exquisite passage from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8), has been read for thousands of years and appreciated for its wisdom and beauty. There are multiple seasons of our lives and the text eloquently describes them from birth to death, laughter to tears, war to peace, planting to harvesting and so many more. Each of us knows these seasonal changes in our own lives and in all around us – our families, our communities, and our world.

I am preparing for a change of seasons, so to speak, in my own life. On June 5, I will retire as pastor in Charlestown after 18 years. Now months after my 77th birthday, I am thinking a lot about seasons changing! Someone asked me after Mass on Sunday how good I was in “letting go”. I had to think about how I wished to answer, for I had not thought much about that.

Like every one of us, I have had to let go of many places, jobs, family members, homes, friends, and more over the years. Sometimes these changes are wrenching and other times less so. Leaving Charlestown will be hard to do. There is so much that is wonderful about the people in The Town and about being a parish priest here. Furthermore, returning to Boston after many years away has been a joy – I am a city guy and love this unique neighborhood.

There is, however, another aspect of this evolution that is constant. For forty years, I am an ordained Catholic Priest and a man never retires from the most essential life and work of a priest. Yet, retiring from being a pastor – that is another matter!

The final lines of the passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes are profound for me and perhaps also for you: “I have considered the task which God has appointed for us to be busied about. God has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into our hearts, without our ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done”.

With immeasurable gratitude to God and to so many in our community, I will let go of Charlestown and carry within me the multiple blessings of these years. A new season is ahead and God is good.

Fr. Ronan

Third Sunday of Easter – April 30/ May 1, 2022

This weekend’s Gospel reading from John enjoys a number of themes not least of which has to do with hearing Christ’s call to live differently but returning to our “comfort zones.” Even after seeing the risen Lord and receiving his blessing and missionary charge, his disciples go back to what they were doing before Jesus first called them.
Instead of continuing Jesus’ ministry, they return to the life they knew.
When faced with the choice between embarking on a new way of life or staying where life is familiar and comfortable, they chose the latter.
Good stewards know that Christ has called them to open their hearts and live in a different way.
How often do we retreat from the Lord’s call so that we may remain with what is ?

In The Afterglow

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The community in Jerusalem was stunned. Some had seen the Risen Lord – all were talking about it and there was a confused, frightened hope growing in the group that would soon become the early Church. The days before Pentecost were trying for everyone, for the gifts of God’s loving and powerful Spirit had not yet been received. And so Peter and the others could not see and grasp the big picture. After 2000 years we can look back on those days as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and almost feel the excitement and turmoil.

Throughout all of this there is one indisputable truth: Jesus has Risen from the dead. He has been seen and He is continuing His teaching and forming of the community of the faithful. Everything is different for the Cross now stands at the center of our understanding of Jesus. That He had to suffer and die to complete His work on earth remains an enormous mystery and truth. There would be no Easter if there had been no Good Friday and throughout the centuries this truth continues to touch our lives.

Last Sunday our parish church was full of worshippers who came to Mass to celebrate and pray on Easter Sunday. They came to services and heard the Good News. The event of Jesus’ Resurrection is not only an historical fact, it is a present reality and touches our lives as much today as yesterday. In our baptism we are baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

To say, “I am a baptized Christian” is to say that I am a follower of the One who suffered, died and rose from the dead. It is to say that I accept that I, too, will struggle and suffer in my life, that I will also die and that I too will be raised from the dead. To celebrate these days is to grasp, again, our destiny and the path to fulfilling it. Our destiny is heaven, and the road there is within the Church, the community of believers, the followers of Christ.

At the Easter liturgies and during these days it is a common practice to begin the Mass with a sprinkling of holy water recalling our baptism and the promises thereof. This is a simple gesture, yet one that can awaken in us a refreshing newness – a reminder of our dignity as God’s precious children.

In the midst of this early springtime with the harrowing issues of our times swirling around us, we need such a reminder and affirmation more than ever.

Fr. Ronan

We Are Grateful

The liturgies of Holy Week, the Sacred Triduum and Easter Sunday were very beautiful. Many members of the parish came together to give of their time and talents to prepare this week to rehearse the music, proclaim The Word, distribute Holy Communion, take up collections, clean the church, arrange the flowers, livestream the Masses, and help in countless other ways.
To all of you, on behalf of a very grateful parish and pastor, a most sincere THANK YOU!

Holy Week in our Parish

Holy Thursday

Good Friday

Easter Vigil

Easter Sunday

Cleaning and Flower Display Team

Alleluia – He Is Risen – Happy Easter

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

THERE ARE NO WORDS
There are times in the lives of all of us when an experience comes along that stretches us, makes it hard to understand, explain and grasp. Sometimes the experience is beauty and loveliness, for example, the birth of a child. At other times the event might be terrible, ugly and tragic, a fatal auto accident, the atrocities happening in the Ukraine. And when
we move from such moments and later try to explain to another what we heard, what happened, what it was like, we fail; there simply are no adequate words.

For more than 2000 years Christians have tried to put into words the Easter story. The Passion gospel is proclaimed during this Holy Week and narrates the story of the Last Supper, the arrest and torture of Jesus and His crucifixion and death. On this Sunday of Easter, we proclaim the story of the empty tomb: Jesus has been raised from death and now lives again.

So it is that we can tell the story, just like we can say that at a certain time and place a precious child was born and similarly at such and such a time, a terrible and fatal accident occurred. And yet the narration only tells a part of the story and there is so much more to really begin to understand the event. It is moving beyond the story and into the real meaning of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that brings one into the place where we struggle to find the words.

Music, poetry, literature, drama, opera, art in every form has all sought to lead us into the depths of the Jesus story. Often all of these most noble of efforts are helpful in lifting us beyond mere words toward a mystery as elusive as it is alluring. For we are seeking to know something of God, the ineffable and omnipotent One, and still, there are no words. Yet the magnitude of the Easter story impels us to seek to understand, something!

Our tradition asserts that this broken world, including you and me, with all of the evil, fear, darkness and sadness of our time, has been embraced by the Son of the Living God,
nailed to a primitive cross to suffer, die and be buried. And early in the morning of the third day, this same Jesus rose from death, conquering the power of evil and death forevermore. On the first Easter morning, Hope was born. It is not a theoretical and distant Hope, rather one that is available to all. On Easter the Church celebrates in a particular way the Sacrament of Baptism, initiating a person into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

There is a stirring in people, an inner something that longs to grasp this enormous truth, for which there are no words. Christ is Risen and in the midst of all the activities of humankind, the joyful and the sad, Hope is present and can never be diminished. To move beyond the story this Eastertime, to let the inadequate words lead us deep into our heart
and to listen to that inner longing for Hope and walk in the promise of Easter is the gift God offers every one of us.

Fr. Ronan

Lily

All of us who have been privileged to share our lives with a dog dread
the day when our dog ages and can no longer continue in long established and mutually appreciated routines.
My English Labrador Retriever, Lily, has been a fixture at the Parish for more than 10 years as was her predecessor, Daisy, for many years before.
Lily is now more than 13 years old and unable to climb the impossibly steep stairs in Charlestown.
So she has retired from her active ministry and is at home with family – enjoying a more quiet life out of the city.

\She is well with some of the issues that come with a dog of her age.
Many parishioners have enjoyed coming to know this gentle loving Lab, as the picture shows!

On the Road Palm Sunday

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

For some time now we have followed Jesus in His determined journey toward Jerusalem. His friends and family urged Him to stay away from there – the threats to His life were real and becoming more and more evident. In spite of that, Jesus makes His way into Jerusalem and on this day, one recorded in history and commemorated throughout Christendom, He enters in triumph to the acclaim of the adoring palm-waving crowds. On this day, few could have imagined how the week would turn out. In five days, many of the same crowd would be shouting for his death. What happened? How could things have changed so dramatically and so swiftly?

Today begins Holy Week, the most sacred week in our religious calendar. It is the week when we embrace the deepest mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again! It is a week when all of us are called upon to look at our relationship with God, and wonder how it is going. And relationship seems to be the right word.

Relationships at their root are matters of the heart, and it is the heart to which God speaks. Oh we can experience God in and through so many of our other senses and if our experience stays at that level, the heart remains untouched. But this is the week that is about the heart. The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is clearly His choice in the face of grave danger. His choice in order to take upon Himself all of the forces of evil: violence, jealousy, greed, power and death and conquer them.

On Thursday Jesus gathers with His disciples and friends for an intimate Passover meal. At that table, He gives us the example of the great teacher. He washes the feet of His disciples and instructs them to follow His example in their life and ministry. After, He establishes the gift beyond measure – the Eucharist. Taking bread and wine, He changes them to His Body and Blood and gives His very self to them to eat. Following His teaching, the Church has been celebrating the Mass ever since.

On Friday, Jesus endures His suffering and death, carrying His cross to Calvary. There on that hill in the shadow of Jerusalem, He embraces His death as He
forgives His murderers. God’s punishment for those who have tortured Him is forgiveness.

The world is bathed in new light on Easter morning as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death. We proclaim with Christians throughout the world, HE IS RISEN!

Is this week one to be observed like any bystander? Or is it to be lived as a participant? You and I are called upon this year to LIVE this week. To embrace it: to pray, to celebrate, to sing, to meditate, and most of all, to love. This is the week to open our hearts and find, again, the invitation to follow Jesus into Jerusalem. There, we will find our reason to walk in hope and the fuel of our love.

This week is holy and it is about a relationship: between you and Jesus.

Fr. Ronan

Help Needed for Easter…
On Holy Saturday morning after Morning Prayer at 9, we need some help
getting the church ready for Easter. We will un-pack and organize flowers
and arrange candles. So, please plan to stop by to give us a hand. Many
hands make light work. So, come on over.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord –
April 9/10, 2022

In the prelude to today’s great Passion Narrative, Saint Paul reminds us that we find our hope in the “emptiness” and “humility” of Christ
Jesus; a life that led to the cross, but through the cross, to glory and exaltation.
The way is not easy. Good stewards know that it requires a willingness to lay aside all rights of personal privilege; emptying ourselves in the service of others;
embracing values different from the values of the world.
It requires an understanding that to be “in Christ” means to be a servant because Christ came into the world, not as Lord but as servant.
What crosses are we willing to carry?
What worldly values we are willing to forego in order to share Christ’s glory?

The Attraction of Angels

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

It seems wrong to think about death in the springtime. And yet we all know, death is ever-present and never discriminates about whom, when, or where. Death scares us. In fact, death is the ultimate of all fears. All fears are minor expressions of death.

Almost always, death means pain, suffering, and grief, especially when death is sudden and arrives for the young and beloved. In fact, the proportion of suffering seems in direct relationship to those two realities. There is no one who is exempt from the experience of death, although some of us have more experience with death than others.

Death impels us to look and think outside of ourselves and, for many, this means to seek understanding and answers, consolation and comfort in our God. Our tradition has taught us from the earliest of times that God’s plan is that every person has a destiny in eternity, a place beyond this life that never ends. In the English language, we call that place Heaven.

In 2010 Todd Burpo published a small book called: Heaven is for Real: a Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. The book describing the near death experience of three year old Colton was on The New York Times bestseller list for a number of years. I read the book several years ago and there is good reason it continues to be a very popular read across America. The story contains details that all of us long to know and stretch to imagine. The innocence and beauty of the child’s descriptions of angels and music, knowledge of a range of issues beyond a child’s ability to have known, and his encounter with Jesus, challenge our beliefs. Yet we all want to know more, and many of us are
so deeply attracted to angels!

I believe our Creator God has “wired” us for Heaven. The restlessness of the human heart that lures all of us into relentless seeking for satisfaction and completion is never at peace until it rests in authentic love. And Love is God. Our destiny is not in this life, rather beyond it and yet the entrance to our destiny is our death. Wow! What a peculiar set of circumstances each of us has to find a way to accept and live into. Often the elderly have taught me to clear away all the stuff that might have been important, and long for what really matters. Over and again I have heard, “I am ready – I want to go home,” from folks who have lived through illness and aging.

The optional Gospel for this fifth Sunday of Lent tells the dramatic story of the death of Lazarus and the appeal of his sisters, Martha and Mary to Jesus. It depicts the sadness and the pain of loss Jesus and the family and friends of Lazarus are experiencing. And the story conveys Jesus’ action of raising Lazarus from death to live again. To me it is almost like this story gives a glimpse of what God wants for every one of us: to move through the reality and suffering, to find a path in life of faith and love and, in this sweet experience of living, prepare to die so that we may live completely and always.

The upcoming celebration of Holy Week and Easter brings into the sharpest focus the relationship among living, suffering, and dying with a future hope of resurrection. Jesus has shown the way, and at the very center of this way is Love. For it is in love that one dies to self and through love that one arrives at fullness of life now and in eternity.

Fr. Ronan

Fifth Sunday of Lent – April 2/3, 2022

Strong words come from Saint Paul in today’s second reading. He reveals in no uncertain terms that life in Christ is our goal.
Everything else, he maintains, is “rubbish.” Junk. Trash. Garbage.
Is that true? Is everything else “rubbish” compared to deepening our relationship with the Lord?
What about putting recreational activities ahead of attending Mass?
Or preferring uninterrupted hours playing the latest video games or watching TV to spending time in a bible study group, choir practice or serving in a soup kitchen?
Or keeping late hours at work over sharing the gospel with friends and neighbors?
To what extent do we exercise stewardship over our relationship with Christ?

Scaffolding continues to be erected to repair damage to the flashing on the tower that occurred during high winds last year.
Repairs are expected to be completed by Easter.

Next Sunday, April 10th. is Palm Sunday

Masses are as follows:

Saturday 4pm – Palm Sunday Vigil

Sunday 8am, 10:30am (Livestreamed)and 6:pm

There is an appointed time for every affair under heaven (Eccl. 3.1)

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

I have always been drawn to those words from the Book of Ecclesiastes. The sacred author presents time as experienced in the different seasons of our lives, as God so intends. It is fluid, continually evolving, each moment accumulating and building toward the next. Nothing stays the same.

Eighteen years ago, Cardinal Seάn visited Lawrence, where I had been serving as pastor for five years. He asked me to leave there and come to Charlestown. I was surprised by the request for there were many exciting things in development. Nonetheless, I replied, “If you ask me to go there, I will, of course”. He did and I came!

Canon law requires a pastor at the age of 75 to submit his resignation to his Bishop. On January 6, 2020, I wrote to Cardinal Seάn and submitted my resignation. I also offered to remain for a couple of more years, if he so wished. He called and asked me to remain.

On my 77th birthday, I wrote once again and suggested June 2022 seemed a fitting time to step aside as pastor and accept a role as senior priest in the Archdiocese. And so it will be. I will celebrate my final Mass as pastor of this wonderful Parish on Sunday morning, June 5 at 10:30. Coincidently, June 5 is also the 40th anniversary of my ordination as a priest.  

Transitions and changes are never easy for anyone. This one will certainly be a difficult one for me as I have grown so to love this community over the past 18 years – almost half of my entire priesthood. Yet, I am not retiring from priesthood! I plan to continue in active ministry although not as a pastor of a parish. I look to serve as a helper in a parish that needs a hand in sacramental ministry. Where that will be will become clear in time.

In the meantime, we have a lot to look forward to in these coming weeks of Lent, followed by Holy Week and Easter, the joyful celebrations of First Communions and Confirmations, and, of course, our beautiful Sunday Mass celebrations. I truly look forward to greeting you all in these upcoming days.

The process of selecting a new pastor has been underway for a while and at some appropriate time we will know who that will be. Most likely, that priest will be saying goodbye to his Parish as he prepares to say hello to ours! In time, I am confident your new pastor will grow to love our Parish every bit as I have.

Fr. Ronan

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 26/27, 2022 (Laetare Sunday)

Today we hear one of the most beloved stories in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. Reconciliation is a prominent theme. Seeing the younger son returning to him, the son who left the family and squandered his inheritance, the compassionate father runs to embrace him.
Jesus offers us a vision of a loving God who is merciful and forgiving when we, through our own sinfulness, leave his presence, and then through repentance, return to him.
The remainder of the Lenten season offers us an opportunity to reflect on God’s compassion and our need for reconciliation.
If you have not done so already, consider celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation and experience God’s loving embrace and forgiveness.

LAETARE SUNDAY

Laetare Sunday is the fourth Sunday in the season of Lent, in the Western Christian liturgical calendar. Traditionally, this Sunday has been a day of celebration, within the period of Lent. This Sunday gets its name from the first few words (incipit) of the traditional Latin entrance (Introit) for the Mass of the day.
“Laetare Jerusalem” (“Rejoice, O Jerusalem”) is Latin from the Book of Isaiah 66:10-11
On Laetare Sunday (as similarly with the Third Sunday of Advent’s Gaudete Sunday) the
Church expresses hope and joy in the midst of our Lenten fasts and penances. It is also called
Rose Sunday and pink (rose) vestments are worn. This change in color indicates a glimpse of
the joy that awaits us at Easter, just before we enter into the somber days of Passiontide.

The Power of Prayer

One of the most common requests a priest receives in the course of a day is for prayers. The request can happen anywhere: on a bus, at Market Basket or Dunkin Donuts, walking down Main St., walking Lily in the park, and in the back of the church. Sometimes the request comes with an explanation that indicates a family problem, a sickness or a personal struggle. At other times there is no explanation, merely a look of sadness or stress in the eyes of the person. In whatever circumstance, I always receive the request seriously and take it to heart.

Over the years my understanding of prayer for another has evolved. Frankly, I have probably forgotten the exact theological teaching on the matter and simply know in my heart that prayer undertaken in earnest for another is powerful. You see it is first of all an act of faith. Faith in the power of God to heal, comfort, console and accompany another in the struggle
of life.

Nothing is more powerful than belief in God. Prayer for another is an act of belief in the omnipotence of God and the capacity of God to reach into one’s life and affect the heart, the spirit. We believe that God can do all things and acting on this belief frees God to act. Over and again Jesus insisted on faith. He explained that it was the faith of a person that brought about miracles He achieved. “Your faith has saved you,” He would proclaim after some expression of His omnipotence.

Not long ago, a young woman who had asked for prayer came to me to explain that her cancer had been cured, although the prognosis several months earlier had been dim. She stated emphatically that it was prayer that had brought about this healing. I do not doubt her. At the same time, I recognize there is enormous mystery in these matters and rarely are things the black and white some might like them to be. My faith does not insist that all turns out according to my wishes or intentions. Rather my faith in prayer takes the person and presents them lovingly to God with a firm belief that God’s love for them will bring them to a good end.

In Lent, the church urges us to embark upon a routine of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These are the cornerstones of our Lenten journey. Prayer has many expressions and a prayer of petition for another is one of them. At its root, it is an expression of one’s personal faith. So for me an excellent place to begin this prayer is in the powerful petition of the Centurion from scripture: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”.

Fr. Ronan

Role Models

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

A couple of years ago I went to my 50th college reunion. Gathered with classmates for different events, we began speaking about the various characters on the faculty and staff about whom we had special memories. These were fun conversations with a lot of laughter. In addition, there were some poignant recollections of persons who had an impact on our young lives.

One fellow, whom we called “Pops” was sort of a night watchman around the campus. He was of an age, had a very noticeable limp, and had a ready smile and a kind inquiring word with any student he met late at night as he moved through the dorms. A few of us enjoyed Sunday night visits to his home where we watched TV and devoured just-baked-bread his lovely wife prepared. We all learned so much about kindness, respect, caring and gracious hospitality from Pops. The night watchman, retired from factory work, was one of our best “teachers” in college!

All of us learn some of the most important life lessons from the words and actions of others. When we are young, we are always scanning for examples and roles models to emulate such as parents, coaches, relatives, celebrities, clergy, and teachers – the list is virtually endless.

In particular, role models can have a very high influence on our faith. Listening to others speak about their faith, reading about the faith journey of others, hearing another witness how faith has shaped life, any and all of these impact our own faith in profound ways.

Often I hear people observe that the practice of faith is declining. There are fewer people in church and secularism abounds. More people are lonely, searching, stressed, and unhappy. I think that is all true and I wonder what could make things better.

We need more role models, witnesses, and courageous folks who choose to speak, write, decide, and act publicly about their faith. One’s faith is not simply a “me and God” thing. Authentic faith always leads outward toward others and community. Saint Francis of Assisi said it well, “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary, use words”

Fr. Ronan

Prayers Before Mass

Try to get to Mass early so you can pray before Mass.
You’ve heard the conventional wisdom, “You get out of it what you put into it.” And that surely applies to the Mass.
Here’s an adapted excerpt from a prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas you may consider praying:
“May I receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, with the reverence
and humility, the contrition and devotion, the purity and faith, and the resolve and determination
He deserves.” Amen.
Remember: you get out of it what you put into it.

The Question is Why ?

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Now that we are in the second week of Lent, the readings and the liturgies will increasingly focus on the suffering and death of Jesus. Those who are seeking to understand Christianity ask the question from time to time: “How could one say that if Jesus is God, He would choose to die on the cross?” The cross is the immovable, the unavoidable center of
Christianity. That Jesus chose to go to Jerusalem and willingly submit Himself to unimaginable suffering and death is perplexing.

Saint Paul once wrote, “The cross is an absurdity for the Gentiles and a stumbling block for the Jews”. Indeed. And what is the cross for you and me? Maybe it is too simplistic, but given that Jesus is “true God and true man”, I think we can reduce it to two possibilities. Either Jesus was deranged – somehow out of His mind or it was an act of immeasurable love.
I believe it to be the latter.

For love, God the Father sent His only Son into the world and for love; this Jesus walked among us eventually to Jerusalem and suffered the death of a prophet. This love is for you and for me. It is a love that is complex, and a number of years ago, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about it in his Lenten message to the world. He said that this love is both agape and eros. God’s love for us both wishes to serve us and wishes to be in union with us.

This Lenten journey that we are on might be said to be a journey to learn more deeply about love. To wonder about God’s love for me, made manifest in countless ways and to wonder about how well I reflect this love in my daily life. For in whatever form, authentic love is always a gift. It is never anything that I can create by my own doing. It is a gift to be received and a gift to be given away. The entire dynamic is at its very core, spiritual, although love expresses itself in so many beautiful ways.

Together, as one community of faith, may these weeks leading up to the holiest of weeks, be a time to wonder, to reflect deeply on this meaning of love. Surely doing so will bring us to the Easter mystery more completely human and filled with hope.

Fr. Ronan

Jesus leads us from all walks of life

Second Sunday of Lent – March 12/13, 2022

In today’s second reading we learn that one of Saint Paul’s principles of Christian living is to watch and imitate other followers of Christ.
There is a pattern for Christian living that Saint Paul wants others to discover and then imitate.
This pattern includes a life of prayer, selflessness, sacrifice, and caring for others, including our family of faith.
Good stewards choose their friends wisely.
They cultivate friendships with other Christian stewards, spend time with them, observe how they live, ask questions about their faith and learn from them.
Who are your friends? Are they good stewards of their faith?
Are they those who can help you on your own journey of faith?