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Paul Martin

For Whatever You Want

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Throughout my years of ministry, in places near and far, always I come to a place of amazement when persons in trouble, grieving, in need, and broken in spirit find consolation in hearing the 23rd Psalm. For thousands of years this has been true, even to this very time. The imagery is antiquated, the meaning ever-new.

The great Jewish King David, author of many of the Psalms and the author of Psalm 23, was once a shepherd boy. In this Psalm, he places the image of the shepherd at the center of his prayer and casts God in the role of Shepherd: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” The opening line is so familiar that when I quoted it at Sunday Masses, the congregation quickly recited the subsequent line using the most popular translation: “There is nothing I shall want.”

The Psalm continues on with the image of each of us as a sheep and God as our Shepherd. David, in a most profound and simple way, outlines a complete set of circumstances that address our human journey and needs. Our physical needs are well cared for: “green pastures and still waters.” Our very beings are refreshed and restored, and our direction in the journey made right: “He restores my soul. He guides me along right paths.”

Even in dangerous times, we are freed from fear because of the presence of the watchful, able Shepherd: “Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” Accompanied by The Shepherd, the journey holds amazing promise of blessings and even reconciliation with foes: “You set a table–perhaps even for my enemies to join me and my cup overflows.”

David concludes this prayer with an absolute profession in his belief in God’s loving care for him—and for us as we pray, “Indeed goodness and mercy surround me all the days of my life—and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The simplicity of Psalm 23 almost obscures how very sublime it is. The prayer speaks to the depths of the human heart.

While the popularity of the Psalm is widespread, it seems that the actual appropriation of the Psalm is very limited. By that I mean so many of us are fraught with the challenges of everyday life and have a sense of the heaviness of living. The worries and the stress, the long hours of work and planning, the saving and earning, the struggle to be healthy and finally to find happiness are part of the life of us all. Some of the younger members of the community feel this more intensely than others, for no one is exempt from the challenges of life.

So how can it be that we profess, “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want,” but are not able to hold on to this reality in the midst of our struggles? Where is the disconnect?

It seems our faith and our prayers are put aside when we step into the reality of our life. And yet it is precisely there in the come-day go-day movement of our lives that our faith is most needed. If, in those difficult moments, we embrace and internalize the actual meaning of the psalm, then we will truly feel and comprehend what it means to have the Lord as my Shepherd and to want for nothing. And we will understand why Psalm 23 has been loved and prayed for so many centuries.

Fr. Ronan

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 24/25, 2020

There is one command that summarizes this weekend’s Gospel: to love.
For Jesus there is no distinction between these two commands of loving God and neighbor. One naturally flows from the other.
In fact, for Jesus, these commands constitute a way of life for Christian stewards; a unique approach to life and to their relationship with others. Our neighbors include everyone with whom we come into contact:
family members, friends, people we don’t like, strangers and particularly those most in need of our love and compassion.
Love calls us to open our hearts and do more to help others grow closer to the Lord.
How might we follow Christ’s love command more fervently?

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley Statement welcomes Holy Father’s Third Encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” – October 6, 2020

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Pope Francis has given the Church his third encyclical leer, Fratelli tutti, a comprehensive examination of a broad range of issues within countries, and globally across nations and peoples at this moment in history. Like his second encyclical, Laudato si’, this letter is inspired by the example and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. The Holy Father went to Assisi to sign and promulgate this most recent teaching document of his Pontificate.

The letter is far too expansive to allow for a summary. Much analysis will be needed to grasp the full scope of the Pope’s call for a “Global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family.”

Along with the spirituality of St. Francis, the Holy Father pays tribute to the document he signed recently with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, entitled, “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”

Pope Francis develops in his new encyclical a vision of fraternity and relationships at multiple levels of life: from personal encounters, to life within nations, to global relations in a world seeking to overcome and recover from the global pandemic of COVID-19. Although the encyclical is addressed primarily to the Church, the Holy Father offers it explicitly for consideration to all people of good will.

Pope Francis specifies issues that render national and global fraternity difficult to achieve in our time. Among those he cites are aggressive nationalism, the virus of racism and a failure to respond to the plight of immigrants and refugees.

To respond to these and other obstacles to fraternity and peace, Pope Francis calls for “A heart open to the world” and a “better kind of politics.” Reiterating his opposition to both war and the death penalty, he concludes the letter with a vision of “Religions at the Service of Fraternity in Our World.”

The new teaching document specifies several themes that are pertinent to our common life in the United States and our role in the world today. I hope it will receive the study, attention and dialogue it deserves within the Church and beyond.

An excerpt from the introduction of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti:

  1. The following pages do not claim to offer a complete teaching on fraternal love, but rather to consider its universal scope, its openness to every man and woman. I offer this social Encyclical as a modest contribution to continued reflection, in the hope that in the face of present-day attempts to eliminate or ignore others, we may prove capable of responding with a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not remain at the level of words. Although I have written it from the Christian convictions that inspire and sustain me, I have sought to make this reflection an invitation to dialogue among all people of good will.
  2. As I was writing this letter, the Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities. Aside from the different ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident. For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all. Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to refine existing systems and regulations, is denying reality.
  3. It is my desire that, in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Fraternity between all men and women. “Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together… By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together”.[6] Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.

  4. Without claiming to carry out an exhaustive analysis or to study every aspect of our present-day experience, I intend simply to consider certain trends in our world that hinder the development of universal fraternity.

The entirety of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, can be found here.

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time October 17/18, 2020

Jesus offers us a profound teaching on stewardship in this weekend’s reading: What belongs to Caesar? What belongs to God?
Christian stewards recognize that everything they have belongs to God. God created them, and God has claims on every part of their existence. They also realize that the sovereign is an institution whose nature and purpose is to promote the common good and protect the welfare of its citizenry.
As long as it accomplishes this mission while treating every single person with deep respect, justice and compassion, it merits the steward’s support and cooperation. Christian stewards know what belongs to the Lord, and they are better citizens when they live their lives according to his Gospel.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Walking through the barrios of Guayaquil, Ecuador one of the first impressions one has is the number of dogs that are everywhere. My old uncle had a saying, “You could always tell a poor man – because he has a dog; you can always tell a very poor man, because he has two dogs!” Even when there is limited food for everyone in the family – the dog is in the midst of the family and receives a little of whatever there is. Of course, here in Charlestown the whole dog thing is huge – and I confess that I add to the affection folks have with dogs with my own Labrador, Lily.

Yet, I find it troubling that, for some, the emphasis placed on pets seems more than concern for people, especially people in need. When a person is found to be abusing an animal, that story might make headlines, especially if the person is some sort of a celebrity. On the other hand, when a person is found to be abusing another person, some don’t consider it to be a big deal. But it is a big deal.

Naturally, human relationships are more complex than our relationships with our pets. Intimate relationships between friends and spouses are especially complex. When all is healthy, people understand the need for each other to express self in open and honest ways grounded in genuine love and care for the other. Yet all too often all is not healthy and one person in a relationship seeks to control the other by the use of physical, emotional, verbal, financial and/or sexual abuse. When this happens, it is called domestic violence.

The best definition of violence I have ever heard is: “Anything done or not done that diminishes the dignity of another”. When you think about that – all of us have been violent and been victims of violence. Yet domestic violence is the systematic use of violence to gain and maintain control over another. Perhaps the first response to this definition is to think I am speaking about something that is uncommon and certainly not in the neighborhood where I live. Sadly that is untrue.

Domestic violence affects anyone regardless of age, gender, identity, sexual orientation, race, country of origin, ethnicity, culture, ancestry, socioeconomic status, religion, etc. It has been estimated that 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Recent statistics in the United States report nearly one in four women experience violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life. And it’s reported that during this pandemic time, domestic violence is on the rise. The picture is clear – Domestic Violence is a huge issue and needs to be brought out of the closet and into the light.

The more our community is aware of these realities the safer all persons in our community will be. And while the men and women impacted are many, it is the children who are in families where there is violence who are profoundly affected and often emotionally crippled in their own development.

So what do we do? October is DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH. Look around. Learn about resources that are here in Charlestown and in our city that can help someone in an abusive relationship. Talk with a member of the local clergy, speak with a close friend. Often speaking about one’s suffering can be the first step toward receiving help – for everyone concerned.

In God’s eyes, each of us is precious and no person, ever in any way shape or form, has the right to abuse another. When this happens, both the person abused and the abuser need help and need to find healing and support.

Fr. Ronan

Resources For Those Affected By Domestic Violence

In a dangerous or immediately threatening situation, always call 911 first, to keep yourself and your children safe.
MA SafeLink 24/7 Hotline 1-877-785-2020
• The best first step for guidance on how to approach your situation
• Directly connects women to immediate shelter and long-term housing options in Mass.
• Assists with safety planning, crisis intervention, as well as supportive listening and guidance
Multilingual counselors, and access to translation service for over 130 languages
National Domestic Violence 24/7 Hotline 1-800-799-7233
• Provides immediate support and guidance, as well as brainstorming help for appropriate next steps Also offers free support via live chat on their website ( between 8am and 3am EST, if you are not able to access a safe phone
Passageway at BWH 1-617-732-8753
• Offers legal advocacy services, safety planning, counseling, support groups, and referrals to outside resources like housing & lawyers
• Offers services in English and Spanish, with access to interpreters for other languages
• Locations at BWH, Faulkner Hospital, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, Brookside Community Health Center, Whittier Street Health Center, and Mission Hill Community
At times other than M-F 8:30-5:30, call 1-617-732-5520, ext. 31808 to page advocate-on-call
HAVEN at MGH 1-617-724-0054
• Provides support groups, counseling, advocacy, workshops, safety planning, resource referrals, and supportive accompaniment to court and other appointments
• Locations at MGH, as well as in Chelsea and Revere
• Offers multi-lingual support through bilingual counselors and on-call translators
At times other than M-F 8:30-5:30, call 1-617-726-2241 to page advocate-on-call

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time October 10/11, 2020

There are a number of Bible verses Christians have memorized. One of them is in Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians found in this weekend’s second reading: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13). Most people define themselves either by their problems or their possibilities. Fearful people wake up each morning ensnared by their problems. Christian stewards wake up reflecting on their possibilities with confidence and hope.
Some stewardship reflection questions for the week:
What challenges do you back away from because you doubt that you are up to them?
What would you attempt tomorrow if you were sure God would help you?

Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s Statement on Massachusetts Roe Act legislation

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

September 25, 2020
Our country and our Commonwealth are faced these days with multiple issues that are both empirically complex and profoundly moral in their content and consequences. These issues include the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice, climate change, poverty and inequality. The Catholic Church, in its teaching and social ministries, is engaged with many other organizations in addressing these questions, and we will continue to do so.

In this statement, however, I wish once again, as I have done in the past year, to raise up for attention a uniquely significant moral question: the issue of abortion. It is uniquely significant because it always involves the right to life, the fundamental human right, which is the foundation of the other spiritual and material rights that comprise the common good of our society. Abortion always terminates a human life.

The right to life of the unborn is deeply threatened by legislation presently being considered in the Massachusetts legislature. The ROE Act is now being debated in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Advocates for this bill describe its purpose as protecting the status and legacy of the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S.

Supreme Court in 1973. As a matter of law, Massachusetts already has among the most extreme abortion laws in the county, and if Roe v. Wade were overturned, abortion rights in Massachusetts would be unaffected. Here in Massachusetts, the proponents of the ROE Act describe its objective as increasing access to abortion.

Tragically, the bill would do this but in a very extreme manner. Specifically, the ROE Act would do the following; it would:
• Allow abortion in Massachusetts during all nine months of pregnancy;
• Eliminate any requirement that even late-term abortions be performed in
• Eliminate the requirement to make efforts to care for a child who survives an attempted abortion;
• Eliminate any requirement that a pregnant minor (under 18) have any adult consent (parental or through the courts) before undergoing an abortion.

The proposed legislation can reasonably be described as radical in its nature and destructive in its consequences. It is being pressed forward as if it were necessary in a state with some of the most expansive abortion laws in the country. By any rational measure, the specifics of the Act cited above are extreme measures in a state already known as widely pro-choice. I regret that fact, but it is a fact.

For almost 50 years, abortion has divided this nation morally, legally and politically. Again, I regret these divisions, but it is not possible to remain silent as this legislation is being pressed upon this Commonwealth. Opposition to the Act is required on moral grounds, indeed on basic human rights grounds.

Our opposition to the ROE Act is not designed to condemn, shame or singleout individuals. The complex conditions which often bring women to undergo an abortion should be acknowledged and recognized. In the face of these situations, the appropriate attitude should be compassion and care. In the Archdiocese, we attempt to offer both through Pregnancy Health and the Project Rachel program. Our deepest concern is to provide help and support to women.

The Church must oppose the ROE Act, and I invite others to consider why we do so. We will publicize our objections in the parishes of the Archdiocese, seeking the support of members of our community. We will continue to explain our views to legislators and urge citizens to express their opposition to their representatives and senators. We will dialogue with our neighbors who may differ with the Church’s position and will do so with care and civility. In the end, we are simply committed to protecting human life in its most vulnerable condition.

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 3/4, 2020

This weekend’s Gospel reading poses some challenging
stewardship questions, particularly at a time when so
many people are becoming disengaged
from their faith communities.
When Christ returns, will we be found
working diligently in the Lord’s “vineyard;” converting
our own hearts into a rich harvest of love and compassion?
Calling those outside our vineyard to enter into the joy of
the Lord? Or will we just be living off of what the Lord has
given us, but not sharing God’s love with others?
Jesus’ parable suggests that if we are not good stewards of the
gifts we’ve been given then the gifts will be taken away,
and we will be called to give an account for our failures.
We have all we need for a bountiful harvest, even during
these disquieting times. What will our Lord find when He
returns and asks us to give an account?

What’s the Big Deal ?

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Maybe it is because she was a media darling and her person and life cultivated a huge following. Perhaps it is our recognition of the importance of the Supreme Court, the third estate, and the significance it has in the government and wellbeing of our nation. Wherever one stands on the political spectrum, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg contributed deeply to advancing the American Dream.

Gifted with an extraordinary intellect and love of the law, and blessed with a superb education, she used her gifts to address inequality in all forms. While she was especially recognized for addressing gender inequality in the workplace, her decisions and writings had far-reaching impact in the areas of racial inequality as well. She so forcefully opened up the issues of equality for all Americans that consciousness of these critical matters became more and more central in the law and in our own lives.

From before the time I played Little League, it has always amazed me how each of us, no matter how young and little, have a sense of what is fair. We may not like it when it rubs against our personal actions, but there is a universal assent to that old saying: What’s fair is fair!

Philosophers, theologians, jurists, and scholars through the ages have supported what is known as Natural Law Theory. This is a system of laws based on values intrinsic to human nature that each person can deduce through reason and faith.

In the middle ages, St. Thomas Aquinas appropriated these theories from the Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Cicero among the Romans. And our own Declaration of Independence has its underpinning in Natural Law, infused with Christianity’s assertion of the dignity of each person.

Justice Ginsburg fought against sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and more for the equality of every person. Her popularity speaks deeply to our human core about fairness for all.

I believe each of us is created by God and within our very DNA we yearn for fairness, justice, harmony, hope, and love. Whenever the law of the land lifts up the essence of these longings, we want to stand and applaud.

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 26/27, 2020

Saint Augustine, a doctor of the church, once wrote that the first, second, and third most important attitude in Christianity is humility. In today’s second reading, Saint Paul is concerned with how we conduct ourselves in our community of faith. He urges us to let our conduct be worthy of the Gospel we say that we believe; and that it all begins with humility.
He asks us to consider others beer than ourselves, and to serve them by looking out for their best interest, not ours. Consider how Saint Paul’s appeal to imitating Christ’s humility can enhance your relationships.

It Is A Vision Thing

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

There is an old saying that has always intrigued me: “Tell me where
you stand and I’ll tell you what you see”. I like the saying very much because it helps me realize how my “vision” is limited in so many ways
by my experiences, which are themselves finite. For me, this statement
has many applications. For example, most of us choose friends and colleagues who are like ourselves. We may read the same news reports, listen to the same news shows, belong to the same church community, support the same sports teams, and live in similar neighborhoods. In
many ways, our “vision” may be similar.

Today, we are all “standing” in the middle of a different and very unfamiliar place. Because of COVID, we are all looking out at the world differently than 6 months ago. Everyone, without exception, has been affected. One of the things we do not see clearly is an end to the pandemic and a return to what we considered normal from several months past.

Every day, when the weather permits, I walk from our house in Hayes Square out around the Harborwalk, and across Chelsea St. to Saint Mary’s Church and Parish Center. The walk usually takes around 20 minutes. That is now changed. I need at least 30 – 35 minutes for the walk. You could conclude that I am simply walking slower and that applies to Lily, too. Maybe…. However, the real reason is the folks we meet along the way (many with their dogs) and I desire to pause and chat a bit.

Social distancing and isolation along with working remotely and all the rest
have caused a thirst for human connectedness. People are happy to stop their walking and share a few words whether for the first time or checking-in from last we met. It is wonderful; and it is making me late for Mass!

COVID is causing us to all appreciate one another and relationships we have
taken for granted become more special. “Where I stand …” is more aware of my mortality and the precious gift of life and time. “Where I stand …” is humbly grateful for now having so many items we always took for granted (like toilet paper). “Where I stand …” is frustrated that I have no control over what happens tomorrow and angry that our government is so divided and unresponsive to the poor.

You and I stand in Charlestown (for the most part) and our vision is blurred in these days. This blurry vision causes me to look where I can see more clearly, to focus on that which offers me hope and a path forward: my faith. I firmly believe God is more present than ever in these moments, awaiting our gaze so that we can recognize what truly matters and is life giving. It is and always will be the beautiful sweet mystery of love. See it, seek it, nurture it, cherish it, celebrate it and recall that where love is, there is God.

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-Fifth Sunday
Ordinary Time
September 19/20, 2020

From an early age, we tend to distort the concept of “fairness”:
“I am good. I deserve good things. I am not receiving good things. Something must be wrong. Who’s going to fix it?”
We also know the age-old expression: “Who ever said life was fair?”
Jesus knew this expression when he offered his parable in today’s Gospel reading. Christian stewards acknowledge, with humility, that they receive good things from the Lord in abundance; even if these gifts are not the ones they think they need when they need them.
Consider which servants you identify with most in the Gospel reading, the ones who demand “fairness”,
or that final servant who, seemingly, deserves the least.

Coming Home

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Even though Covid continues to define everything in our world, the seasons are changing and September is here. As we wind down summer, there is a rush to make sure that everything that was supposed to get done over these short few months actually got done. Did the kids finish their summer assignments? Did I paint that room I was going to? Did we visit that lake that we drove by last year? Did I finish that book I was going to read? Did I even start it? The amount that we try to cram into summer can be exhausting to just think about. But, next year, we will do the same thing again: we will plan as much as we can and try to squeeze it all in!

For me, September actually brings some relief. The kids get back into their normalcy – for now it is remote learning, hybrid learning, or back in school with masks on. More people are also figuring out what their new work routines are. Sure, this means more cars and buses on the roads, but with the busyness, it forces you to also slow down a little bit (because the traffic will not allow you to go any faster)! For me it feels good to just come home.

Coming home gives me a sense of relief that I rarely get from anything else that I do. When I walk through the doors at home, there is a sigh – a breath of fresh air. There could be other things going on at home that make it seem stressful, but I am still home. I relax, take that breath – if only for a minute – and then dive into what needs to get done. Those minutes are precious.

Another one of those moments for me is when I walk through the doors of our beautiful Church. “I’m home” is what I say to myself. I believe this feeling is also the same for many other parishioners. One can feel the warmth of the building, the love of other parishioners – and of course God’s love.

Just like our familial homes, there is also that other “stuff” that needs to get done at the Church. Paying the bills, taking care of the property, and fixing what needs to get fixed. The people of our Parish come together in remarkable ways when things need to get done. The huge effort to refurbish and paint Saint Mary’s is succeeding only because of the support of all of us. Our religious education program will be starting soon, and many volunteers will come together and teach the children of Our Parish.

Because of COVID, understandably, some in our community have not felt safe returning to Sunday Mass. Fortunately, this weekend all four Masses will be celebrated for the first time since March. Please also know that the Church is cleaned and sanitized before each Mass and seating is designated to respect social distancing. So, when the times is right for you and your family to walk through the doors of Saint Mary’s, I am sure you, also, will feel you truly are HOME in God’s house – and God is welcoming you with open arms.

James Santosuosso,
Business Manager

Twenty-Fourth Sunday Ordinary Time Weekend of September 12/13, 2020

Today’s Gospel reading continues Jesus’ instructions on being good stewards of others – the direction that if we love Jesus Christ, we must forgive an individual 77 times. The reading compels us to consider one of the most difficult practices of Christian discipleship.
Forgiveness is the way of Jesus, the way of the cross.
Vengeance, bitterness and hatred seem so much easier and certainly more desirable.
Forgiveness is a hard road to travel, but it is the only road that leads to life in Christ.
Consider this week who you need to forgive.

This September

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

There never has and likely never will be another end of summer like this year’s. We are all entering into the fall with sketchy plans and wondering how this is all going to play out. Educators are feverishly working to put in place good experiences for their students. Parents are searching to find solutions for too many problems, whether working remotely or in some hybrid model of their children’s education. Everyone is anxious about COVID and its possible return in the weeks ahead. Yes, this is an unprecedented autumn.

Is there a place to go to find relief? Is there a formula that makes dealing with all of the ambiguities and challenges possible? I think there is. It begins with an examination of our expectations: why what we think is important really is important. It continues with carefully reviewing what truly matters the most and why it does.

This process means locating my life and that of my family and friends, in a bigger picture that moves outside of the box of my usual customs and familiarities and perhaps my comfort zone. For example, this morning a young dad, in responding to my question about how his family is doing, replied a lot was very uncertain and worrisome. However, he had a job and so they are blessed.

The young mother and father then explained how grateful they are that their three beautiful children are healthy and happy, and that the Sunday morning is beautiful.

I believe that one of the most potent resources we have to respond to this terribly hard time is gratitude. That may seem a paradox and I guess it sort of is one. Nonetheless, gratitude flows from a wisdom that recognizes that God is active, present constantly, and is always close at hand. “Count your Blessings” is not a simplistic piece of advice from of old. It is an enduring piece of wisdom.

Often, to be implemented, it requires placing my moment in a context bigger than my private expectations and thus recognizing God’s fingerprints on everything. For myself, such an awareness causes me to utter, “thank you!”

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time September 5/6, 2020

In Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans he suggests that God lavishes his love upon us through Jesus Christ, who calls us to the kind of loving relationship, if we so choose it, that demands accountability. It is like, in Saint Paul’s vocabulary, a kind of “debt” that we can never “pay-in full.” But we begin to repay by following the direction of one of the most familiar statements in the Bible: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Good stewards realize that God does not call them just to love those who are easy to love, but to love the unloved and the hard-to-love people in this world as well.

This week, remind yourself: “I am put here as an ambassador of God’s love.”

Expect A Blessing

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Most of us confess that we are not ready for summertime to pass and I, for one, feel offended that the trees in the Training Field outside of the office have already begun shedding their leaves!

But as the passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us all: “There is an appointed time for everything and a time for every affair under the heavens” (3:1). The movement of the seasons, each flowing one into another, without anyone of us understanding the mystery and beauty of it all is both humbling and awesome; for it is God who sets the appointed time, even though many of us often resist that truth. We prefer to think that we are in control.

So how can we face change as a blessing rather than a burden?

I have come to believe that our God is a God who turns all things to good, and the more we expect to be surprised by God’s gracious love, the more it happens, even in difficult times. When we turn the page, sometimes reluctantly, and find the next page offers something unfamiliar, unappealing, even painful, that is the exact moment to trust God and to look with anticipation for the blessing God has packed into this new “page.” Our openness to the challenge results in it becoming fruitful in countless ways.

Isn’t it possible that our Creator God has so constructed our lives that the constancy of change is exactly meant to be an ongoing invitation for us to look toward God and trust that a blessing will come out of whatever difficulty we are facing? In all this we call to mind the words of Scripture, Nothing is impossible with God. Actually I have come to prefer turning that phrase around, Everything is possible for God.

Come September I no longer have to go back to school and all that, yet I still
feel a resistance to letting go of the summer season. To savor its beauty and all the loveliness of this time of year is a good preparation for the next movement of God’s work – the autumn. Seeing God’s hand in all of life can help us to let go and appreciate all of God’s marvelous work. Further we can see that God is also working in each of us, as we face the unfolding of own seasons of life.

So, letting go of summer as a metaphor for life can help us to learn to trust a bit more in God’s wonderful plan for us and all that surrounds us in this special time of year. Truth to tell, autumn seasons can hold blessings for all of us!

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-Second Sunday
Ordinary Time – August 29/30, 2020

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus brings up the topic of the cross to his
followers. They would not realize the cross was part of God’s plan and
was to be their legacy until after the Resurrection.
Today’s followers of Christ recognize they are stewards of his entire legacy, including his cross; that through their mutual sacrifices God’s glory is revealed. They don’t live their lives in Christ only when it is convenient for them. They make a decision to take up their cross and carry it, no matter what the cost. In the midst of the uncertain times we live in, what crosses do we bear in order to reveal God’s glory? – ICSC bulletin


150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

When most of us feel hungry we open the refrigerator door, go to a cabinet, dial for takeout, or look for a place to find and buy some food. Without much effort, we find a way to satiate our hunger. Yet we all know that there are other kinds of hungers which are not so easily satisfied – a longing for companionship and love; a yearning for meaning and purpose.

Yes, the deepest hungers of the human heart are not for food, but rather for
relationships with others that are significant and life-giving and for a sense of purpose. The God Who created each of us has placed this longing in every person’s heart, and most every day, in one way or another, it is a hunger we seek to satisfy. When we experience it, we not only feel nourished, we feel fulfilled – more complete and joyful. And when it is lacking, we know the anguish and pain of disappointment, incompleteness, and unhappiness.

The hungers of the world are well known to our God. Jesus, God’s gift to all
of humanity, walked the earth and experienced them all. He knows the complexities of life; the importance of family; the need for good friendships; the pain of betrayal; the necessity to cultivate a forgiving heart if one is to be whole again. And above all, he understood the fundamental need for a relationship with His loving God, who sustained Him in life through death into a resurrected life, ultimately bringing Him home again to dwell where there is no time.

Jesus healed and transformed those who sought Him and whom he sought
out who were sick, lonely, and ostracized; those who were chasing after stuff that ultimately did not fill their void. He gave direction to those who were lost, and purpose to those who lacked meaning in their lives. And so we, too, can turn to Jesus for guidance, assistance, and nurturance in every aspect of our lives.

When Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven”, those who heard Him were shocked – appropriately so. He goes on to explain: “I am the living bread, whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”. This is not a statement made for one moment in time; rather it is a proclamation of a truth that endures for all time, available to us in the Eucharist.

God’s gift to humankind of His Son is the explicit response of our Creator to
our hunger. It is in Christ that all of the longings of the human heart are filled. We are brought into this relationship at our Baptism and invited ever deeper into relationship with the Word proclaimed, the Sacraments received and the community gathered who together become the Body of Christ. Our relationship with Jesus is meant to be dynamic, and requires each person’s assent day by day, if it is to be a fulfilling one – just as in our human relationships.

Many of our brothers and sisters are starving – malnourished at an advanced level that extends beyond the need for food that perishes. When I look out the window of my office onto the Training Field, I see men and women hurrying along on their way to work. I see the same thing in the early morning when I am walking in the Navy Yard. And I wonder…what kind of a day they will have? Will their hungers be satisfied?

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 22/23, 2020

Saint Paul reminds us in today’s second reading that the ultimate origin of everything is God. Since everything comes from God, we are God’s own.
We can never put God in our debt.
There is absolutely no negotiating with God.
Every breath we take is a gift.
Every good deed we perform is grace.
Good stewards realize they are created and called to make
the beauty, greatness, compassion and justice of God and his
gifts known throughout the world.
The stewardship question for us is whether we are willing to embrace this call, acknowledge our dependence on God and give our lives over to him completely for this purpose.