FR. RONAN’S BLOG

Punctuated by God

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The hallmark of a Benedictine community lies in its prayer life. The community gathers for choral prayer at least three times a day—morning praise, noon praise, and vespers. In Benedictine communities that devote themselves to the recitation of the more ancient Liturgy of the Hours, the times for communal prayer are even more often than that. To beginners in the life, the schedule can be a shock.

When we were in the novitiate, the older sisters delighted in telling us the story of the young postulant who came to the monastery full of zest for the life—and then, six months later, simply got up and left. “I like it here a lot,” the young woman said, “but there’s never a minute’s rest. And every time I do get time, the bell rings.” Then the old sisters would bubble over with laughter.

It took a while before I caught on to the joke. The funny part was that the postulant had the ideas confused. She couldn’t understand why it was that every time the chores of the day were finished, just when she thought she wouldn’t have anything to do for a while, the bell rang to call the community to another period of prayer. Prayer for her was work, an intrusion into her private time. But for those whose life is centered in prayer, prayer is time for resting in God. It is the “work” of the soul in contact with the God of the heart.

Prayer is what links the religious and the spiritual, the inner and outer dimensions of life. Every spiritual tradition on earth forms a person in some kind of regular practice designed to focus the mind and the spirit. Regular prayer reminds us that life is punctuated by God, awash in God, encircled by God. To interrupt the day with prayer is to remind ourselves of the timelessness of eternity. Prayer and regular spiritual practices serve as a link between this life and the next. They give us the strength of heart to sustain us on the way. When life goes dry, only the memory of God makes life bearable again. Then we remember that whatever is has purpose.

Prayer does not simply reveal us to God and God to us, I came to know after years of apparently useless repetition. It reveals us to ourselves at the same time. If I listened to myself when I prayed, I could feel my many masks drop away. I was not the perfect nun; I was the angry psalmist. I was the needy one in the petitions. I was the one to whom the hard words of the gospel were being spoken. I was the one adrift in a sea of darkness and uncertainty even after all these years of light.

“I don’t pray,” people say to me. And I say back, “Neither do I. I just breathe God in and hope somehow to learn how to breathe God out, as well.” The purpose of prayer is simply to transform us to the mind of God. We do not go to prayer to coax God to make our lives Disneyland. We don’t go to prayer to get points off our sins. We don’t go to suffer for our sins. We go to prayer to be transfigured ourselves, to come to see the world as God sees the world, to practice the presence of God, to put on a heart of justice, of love, and of compassion for others. We go to become new of soul.

Maybe we are forgetting to center ourselves in the consciousness of God who is conscious of us all. Maybe that’s why the world today is in the throes of such brutal violence, such inhuman poverty, such unconscionable discrimination, such self-righteous fundamentalism. Maybe we are forgetting to pray, not for what we want, but for the sight, the enlightenment, that God wants to give us. And if I pray, will I be able to change those things? I don’t really know. All I know is that the enlightenment that comes with real prayer requires that I attend to them, not ignore them.

—from Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir, by Joan Chittister

February 16 ~ Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

It’s all about the Law this week. Sirach gives us great insight, “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;”
The choice is ours to live by the law or not. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus sets the bar high for us – it’s not simply about doing good and avoiding evil, there’s more: “whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”
What kind of example do you set with adults and with children?
Pray for what you need:
Kindness? Patience? Temperate speech? Self-control?

Listening . . .

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

In the course of any parish priest’s day, there are many varied activities. Really, from concern over some item of the buildings to time spent with a family grieving the death of a loved one. The spectrum is broad and deep – and I love it! Often the activity that is the most important and precious is listening. We priests are good listeners – at least we try to be! Now that might not sound like “heavy lifting” – yet there are many times when it is! It depends on the ma%er being discussed. If it is about the future of a cherished quarterback for the New England Patriots, that is one thing; if the subject is a family coping with a loved one diagnosed with a terminal cancer, that is something else.

Listening, in any event, calls one to offer complete attention to the other – and often we do not listen that way! As we hear another speaking, we are inclined to anticipate what the individual will say and then formulate our response before the person has finished speaking! At other times, one’s mind is elsewhere while another is speaking. Many of us have done this and have been in conversations where this is common, and when we reflect on it we come to realize that this is not true listening.

Some years ago, Carl Rogers, a noted psychologist and prolific author, introduced a new way of looking at effective therapy. Among other things, he suggested that what he called; “Unconditional Positive Regard” was crucial to effective psychotherapy. Rogers was talking about how we listen. He taught that healing can take place when, in an encounter, a listener gives his/her entire attention to the other, in a positive and nonjudgmental way, allowing the person to speak and accepting without judgment whatever is said. A person’s hurts, brokenness, shame, anxiety, fear, inferiority, confused identity, and so much more can improve. On the one hand, it sounds so elementary and yet, in truth, it is so profound.

This very experience happens all the time, among friends, spouses, colleagues, and teachers … It is that phenomenon of one human being caring for another. Caring in such a way as to make it possible for another to experience and grow in love and at times, to help another to open up and unburden all kinds of trouble and pain that is within. We all need such opportunities, and everyone is healthier because of them. At the same time, we all know there are some parts of life, some experiences, choices, and actions that are very difficult and cannot easily be spoken about. Sometimes a priest can help.

Actually, it is better to say, all the time, God can help. And God has chosen, for God’s own reasons, to be present to us in countless ways. A very specific and deeply helpful way in which God is present is through the Sacraments of the Church. The Sacrament of Reconciliation often referred to as “Confession”, is one of these Sacraments. The fact that few use the Sacrament in these days does not diminish its value and its availability to be a source of Grace and healing for those who approach this precious gift.

Since my Ordination as a Priest in June 1982 to this present day, I am in awe of how God uses this sacrament to bring His love to people in these moments. Further, while I am well aware of the effectiveness of counseling and therapy – the listening that happens in this Sacrament occasions a time of Grace: God is present and the Priest serves only as an instrument of this Grace in ways that are far beyond understanding.

A priest is available every Saturday afternoon from 3:15 – 3:45 in the Confession corner in the upper Church. Further, during Lent there are special times set aside for Confession. In addition, any person can contact the Parish Office to set up an appointment to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Rogers is right – lovingly listening to another can be a wonderful and healing experience. Imagine how much more such a moment can be when one seeks God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the fruits of that are forgiveness, healing, and consolation.

Fr. Ronan

February 9 ~ Fifth Sunday – Ordinary Time

Winter’s darkness still enfolds us and so the theme of light and darkness in today’s readings is very apropos for us to ponder.
In the first reading, Isaiah gives us an antidote, reminding us that performing works of mercy can bring light into the darkness.
In the Gospel, “Jesus said to his disciples… You are the light of the world…. your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.ʺ
Are your words and actions pointing people to Jesus?
If they are not, what will you do to be a light in the darkness this week?

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 than that of a teenager or an adult? How about the response of an 80 year old person – would it be very different than 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 was 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? I ask the question because these past weeks the readings at Mass have provoked me to wonder why I am happy and what causes my happiness. For example, the reflections around the feast of St. Paul (January 25) suggest that after Paul’s conversion, his whole life became one of service to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That 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 totally 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 without 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 needs and desires. But true happiness, well, that is something more. Yet, the whole world is searching for happiness – frenetically it seems. And St. Paul found the answer in Christ who offers Himself to us every day.

Fr. Ronan

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

On this feast of the Presentation, the Gospel of Luke gives us a lovely scene on which to reflect. Mary and Joseph bring the child Jesus to the Temple to present him to the Lord. In the Temple, both Simeon and Anna, elders in the Temple, recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and gave witness to his presence.
We come to Mass each week and receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. As we go forth from Mass today, we too give witness to Christ.
Let us pray that in all we say and do, Christ will be visibly present in our lives

TO WONDER

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

We walked along the sidewalk and there were flower gardens, lawn, shrubs and trees all along the way. He was holding my hand – it was a stretch for both of us for he was only 2 years old. The weather was warm and lovely, typical for springtime in Virginia, and there were ants and various bugs crawling everywhere celebrating the rites of spring. My nephew caught sight of these critters and nothing would do but he had to let go of my hand and crawl along following a busy colony of something. He was lost in amazement, completely outside of himself in wonder as he crawled through puddles and over rock in pursuit of the mystery of this life.

I have always held that memory as a classic understanding of what it means to wonder. Wonder is very different than thinking about, analyzing, processing, discussing and debating, working through and a dozen other ways in which most adults stand in front of daily reality. With a “hands-on-hip get the job done” attitude none of us seem to have much time for … wondering. In fact wondering is likely considered a waste of time in many circles and that’s a shame.

Abraham Heschel, the late and brilliant Jewish theologian and philosopher, wrote a lot about wonder. I like these words: “The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living.” To me the issue relates to how one stands in the world in front of the mystery and beauty of creation and all life. Not to wonder seems to leave two options: dismiss the great mysteries of life or believe everything can be understood and figured out. The latter opens one to unsustainable arrogance and failure and the former seems nothing short of foolish.

It is only our capacity for wonder that opens us to the transcendent and the mystery that is life and the universe. In one of his writings Heschel says that the person who never wonders cannot find God. Is it possible that our present time of efficiency, productivity and astonishing advances in so many levels have come at a price? The cost has been an increase of secularism and a diminishment of wonder – be it in art, music, theatre and religious practices.

Professor Heschel’s formula for a life well lived is as follows: “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

Once again, our children can teach us. Jesus was clear in His teaching – we are to become like children and perhaps that is so we can re-capture our sense of wonder in our everyday life for as Heschel says, “Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge.”

Fr. Ronan

January 26 ~ Third Sunday Ordinary Time

Today’s readings are filled with inspiration and instruction.
Isaiah reminds us that we no longer walk in darkness.
For us, the ‘great light’ he speaks of is Jesus Christ.
In the second reading, Saint Paul urges the community to
“be united in the same mind and in the same purpose” and
“let there be no division among you.”
In the gospel, Jesus invites the first Apostles:
ʺCome after me, and I will make you fishers of men.ʺ
Do you see yourself as a fisher of men/women?
Each of the readings offers us good advice for our time!
Which one is God inviting you to give attention to in your life?

EXCLUSIVE

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Some years ago, I recall reading about a response Mother Theresa gave to a question about offensive language. She explained that, to her, one of the most offensive words in the language is exclusive. I never forgot that simple point of view – the more so as our world and communities seem to become increasingly divided over countless issues. This results in an inclusion of some but mostly an exclusion of others – be that in clubs, classes, economic status, citizenship and/or membership and belonging to whatever.

It seems to me it would be a contradiction for a Christian community to present itself as exclusive. I mean, the idea that a community of persons united in their faith in Jesus Christ would consider it right to exclude some population of persons from that community would render itself, in essence, an Un-Christian community.

Does that seem too simplistic? Maybe it is. But when a community announces itself as a “welcoming community”, that seems like an unconditional welcome. Yet, perhaps the problem lies in the delta between what we say and announce and what, in fact, we practice.

I believe for a Christian community to authentically “be welcoming,” the welcome must be unconditional and entirely inclusive. Therefore, any person, young or old, man or woman, gay or straight, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, of any color, race, background or tradition, married, divorced, single, handicapped, or healthy should be welcomed.

Being a welcoming community does not necessarily mean that the welcoming members agree with, practice, or live in total accord with one another’s beliefs. Nor does it mean that the members are always in agreement with those who are being welcomed. It’s not about agreement, it’s about acceptance.

I write about this topic because I believe there are many who do not feel welcomed in church. Even if a church announces “Welcome,” it does not automatically mean one entering a church experiences a feeling of welcome – an environment or climate of welcome. To make that happen requires a deliberate intention on the part of everyone to be welcoming and an openness to be welcomed.

Everyone carries his/her own baggage. For many, the load is very heavy and it often includes scars, deep hurt, and sometimes fear. There may be uncertainty about how God views them or if a faith community will be accepting of them. The truth is everyone is unconditionally loved and accepted in the eyes of God and followers of Christ are called to do the same.

Jesus Christ comes to bring light into our darkness, hope into our desolation, and freedom to our enslavement. He enjoined us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. He told us that whatever we do to those we consider to be “the least of our brothers and sisters” we do to him. If we want to call ourselves Christians, then we must work hard at following Christ’s teachings and at creating communities of welcome. So let’s roll up our sleeves and do our part in creating the world God envisioned for us right where we are.

Fr. Ronan

January 19 ~ Second Sunday Ordinary Time

In today’s gospel, John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Son of God. Our faith and Sacred Scripture confirm this for us – Jesus is the Son of God.
Pray today’s Psalm with an open heart and open mind: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”
What is God’s will for us – for you ?
It is to speak the name of Jesus and tell of His work in your life.
It is Jesus’ will that you make disciples.
Not everyone will do this the same way.
Ask for the grace to find the best way you can to testify – talk about – Jesus

Into the Ordinary

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

This morning as I hurried to the church to prepare for morning Mass, I was thinking about the readings while at the same time aware that the Church turns a page on Monday. For many weeks now, we have been in two very special seasons, Advent and Christmas. The beauty and richness of these times, the eloquence and depth of the readings from Sacred Scripture combined with the loveliness of the decorations and joyful spirit of Christmas conclude with today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This week we return to ORDINARY TIME in the liturgical calendar of the Church.

Interesting word, “ordinary”; what does it really mean? It may be one of those words that is defined more by what it is NOT than by what it is. In that sense “ordinary” is all of the time that is not identified as extra-ordinary. Yet so much of life is all about the “ordinary”.

At a funeral I was celebrating recently, a young man gave a eulogy for a deceased member of his family. He began by offering this observation: the most important item found on a tombstone is none other than the tiny dash – found between the dates of one’s birth and death. For that dash is that person’s life. You might say the DASH is the ordinary. Come to think about it, it could be said that the life of Jesus is marked by two “extraordinary” events: His birth in Bethlehem and His death on the Cross in Jerusalem. Yet the dash, “the ordinary” times of His life, really tell the story of why God’s Son came to earth; the teaching, healing, compassion, water-walking, bread-multiplying, dead-raising and so much more.

I meet with many young couples preparing for their marriage. Sometime early on in our conversations I lift up the well-known saying: “A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime”. Point being, some couples get so entrenched in the planning of the wedding they forget to live fully each day – again the ordinary.

God is found everywhere, of this I am certain. Yet it is hard to find God if one is not living in the present time, moment, and reality of one’s life. I am very fond of these lines from Thomas Merton: “God cannot be found by weighing the present against the future or the past, but only by sinking into the heart of the present as it is” (Entering the Silence, 460).

So it is, God is found most intimately in the ordinary moments of each day – making “Ordinary Time” a very special time!

Fr. Ronan

January 12 ~ The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

This feast of the Baptism of the Lord presents us with the opportunity to reflect on the importance of our own baptism.
It is the sacrament we receive only once but the graces of the sacrament continue to unfold throughout our lives.
Spend some time in prayer with the reading from Isaiah in today’s Mass.
As you read the passage, hear God speaking these words directly to you.
Draw on the grace of your baptism to make these words live in your heart.

St. Mary – St. Catherine of Siena Parish

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

St .Mary’s Church in St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish is one of the last important works of renowned architect Patrick Keely. St. Mary’s church is a unique structure with many beautiful peculiarities. The restoration efforts at the church intend to restore the original historic color palette in order to establish warmth and repose. When architecture and design function together in fitness, proportion, and harmony the effect on the beholder results in an absence of want and repose of the mind; the visual senses are satisfied.

The whitewashed walls of the current interior are distractingly plain compared to the intricacy of the windows, Stations of the Cross, marble altar pieces and of course, the incredible ceiling. By adding color and depth to the walls of the interior, these features will be properly appreciated.

The mockup is an example of the reinstatement of the original color palette. Through careful investigation of the paint surfaces and analytical research the decorative painters were able to repaint previously restored surfaces and approximate the original appearance of these surfaces. The Stations of the Cross in this section have also been restored. During the restoration process of the Stations, decorative painters will consolidate at areas of flaking paint, repair any damages to plaster frames and figures. The repairs are then inpainted to blend and match existing surface.

This gem of a building is just as immense a gift to the community today as the day they laid the corner stone in 1887. Buildings akin to St. Mary’s are monuments of the Faith that endure the test of time bearing beauty, tradition, history and love. The restoration of St. Mary’s is a testament to this truth. John Canning Co. is honored to work with BCA and the Parish on the restoration of this incredible church.

For more information on John Canning & Co.’s restoration of St. Mary’s, a presentation will be held on Sunday, January 5, 2020 following the 8 am Mass.

Restoration Contractor:
John Canning & Co., Ltd.
150 Commerce Court,
Cheshire, CT 06410
www.johncanningco.com

Restoration Consultant:
Building Conservation Associates, Inc.
10 Langley Road, Suite 202,
Newton Centre, MA 02459
www.bcausa.com

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord January 4/5, 2020

“You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace…” This is how Saint Paul begins his letter to the members of the Church at Ephesus in today’s second reading. He proclaims that he, and they, are stewards of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore stewards of God’s loving, unifying and inclusive grace. He also proclaims that the Holy Spirit is at work within each of them, if only they would be open to the Spirit.
Today, our world races by with intolerance, violence, desperate poverty, fear and division. At the beginning of this New Year, perhaps it is appropriate to reflect on Saint Paul’s words and ask ourselves how we can be good stewards of the gospel today.
How will we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us?
How can we be better stewards of Christ’s justice and peace?

And What Do You Expect for 2020?

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

As we bid adieu to 2019 and turn the page of the calendar for this New Year, it seems a fair question to pose. Because it is an election year, most everyone has something to say about politics these days. There is much in the news, and the candidates are all jockeying for position in the eye of the voters. In the area of sports, similarly, many folks have ideas and opinions; and it is the same about music, movies, the weather, social media, TV, religion, the church, globalization, the economy, work places and so on.

Usually I enjoy conversations about some of the complex and popular topics of the day. But, from time to time, I find myself in a conversation with someone who seems negative about everything. Maybe you have had the same experience. Sometimes their position is couched in the opening line, “Now-a-days …” with a conclusion that whatever the topic, its state has deteriorated from earlier days. I used to think this was the mindset of older folks. However, now I am older and I am surprised to discover that this attitude is found in all age groups. Moreover, within that group of people for whom the glass is always half-empty, there is another angle – those who feel that all along there has been a plan for the glass to be this way!

A cynic is a person who speaks critically about something – often with great passion – and appears to be dismissive about any or much of value in the topic at hand. Yet what is most intriguing to me is that the cynic posits there is nothing one can do to make a difference, for the cynic has little faith in human sincerity and goodness. In my experience, a cynic is usually righteous and even intimidating in exerting a position, and for this reason, it can be poisonous.

I speak about cynicism because it appears to me the opposite of the mindset of a Christian. We believe in redemption, forgiveness and in the genuine goodness of persons. Further, we believe that God’s generosity is without limit and persons of faith are encouraged to work for the common good. Trust enters here as well; a cynic would dismiss trusting others and/or society with contempt and the Christian would be called to live the “Golden Rule” – treat others, as you would have them treat you .

Certainly, I realize the issues facing our community, country and world are daunting on many fronts. And I believe that God’s power is limitless and the most intractable problem is not beyond resolution. Our faith tradition and Scripture invite each of us into a relationship with Jesus Christ. In and through this relationship, persons can accomplish the unimaginable. Most of us have seen proof of this even in our own lives.

The truth is that there is a bit of the cynic in each of us. However, we have a choice to be otherwise. The New Year is upon us. Will we look at this new beginning with hope or cynically dismiss it? The latter leads to darkness and despair. The former leads to light and limitless possibilities.

Fr. Ronan

December 29 ~ The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

The example of the Holy Family can be summed up in the words of today’s second reading. They were clothed in “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another…” This feast offers all families the inspiration and encouragement to make these values an essential part of each relationship, conversation and interaction with one another.
Pray in a special way today for all parents, grandparents, and guardians as they strive to make their families holy.

What Is It About These Days?

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Yes, there is the seasonal stress with many feeling there is too much to do and not enough time and resources to meet our needs and wants. Nevertheless, something can put a skip in our step in these days as we rush toward Christmas. For me it happens when I am quiet enough to hear a beautiful piece of music or walk around the town at eventide enjoying the lights and decorations in homes and parks. There is an uplifting, a sense of hope percolating, as we recall the mystery of the birth of Jesus Christ.

This is the season of Hope. More people are philanthropic, responding to the Globe Santa, the giving trees at the Parish, and countless other invitations to assist those in need. I just walked past the fire house on Winthrop St. and noticed the sign on the door promoting a toy drive for children in the town. And of course, the Salvation Army volunteers are ringing their bells all over the city.

Even in the most secular circles, the month of December running up to the 25th includes all kinds of holiday activities from parties and dinners to frenzied shopping for gifts both big and small and the mailing of tons of Christmas cards.

How is it that the birth of a child in a remote village stable 2000 years ago brings the world into such a state wherein acts of kindness, generosity, celebration, and gratitude become common. Moreover, everyone is more upbeat from the giddiness of children to the smiles of grandparents. It seems as if for this tiny window of time, Christmas Angels touch us and our attention is drawn to something bigger and so much more than ourselves.

Jesus Christ is born and the weary world rejoices. The generosity of God in sharing His Son with humankind brings a hope beyond measure. Every person, without exception, is included in God’s plan to know Love, mercy, and salvation. We are the recipients – God acts first.

Therefore, it is for us to respond, and we do, each in his or her own way. For some in these days, pain, grief, and brokenness might be exasperated because of lost loved ones, setbacks, and disappointments. Yet for most, these days find us delighted to hear from old friends in lovely Christmas cards and intrigued to find a fitting gift for someone special. We look forward to the time off from work and the holiday meals and gatherings with family and friends.

On Christmas Eve and morning, we go to Church and hear the story once again of Joseph and Mary seeking shelter. And finding none, they settle in a stable in the village of Bethlehem, David’s City. There, in that humble place, the Son of God was born. He came out of Love, brought a message of Love, asks us to live in that Love, and to share that love with others. And we do, for a very little while.

– Fr. Ronan

Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 21/22, 2019

In today’s Gospel we hear of the coming of Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” We celebrate three Advents: the birth of Christ, his Second Coming, and his presence in the world today. Our daily lives are attended by God’s presence. Indeed, “God is with us.”
The Good News of Christ’s Incarnation is that we are the sign, the “sacrament,” of Christ’s presence in the world.
People are supposed to see us, see how we love one another, see how we treat the stranger among us, see how we give comfort to the poor and afflicted, and share the Good News with joy.
They see how good stewards are the light of Christ.
And there can be no possible response except to say: “God is here!”

I’m Sorry

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

It is a phrase we use often, sometimes in the most casual way when we bump into someone at the grocery store or when we overlook someone or something that should have received our attention. Sometimes it is just a courtesy and at times it is a statement made with emotion that expresses a true sense of remorse that something happened that caused hurt or offense and we had a part in that something.

In our Catholic culture, we grew up with a sense of what sin is and we called it an offense against God. Yet most of us focus on the act, choice, or whatever the situation is as itself sinful – that is, in and of itself contains an element of sin. For example, if I long to have an apple from the market and I steal the piece of fruit, the action is wrong and violates the law, both the law of God and society. When I say I am sorry for stealing the fruit and apologize to the owner of the market, one part of the offense is the taking of the apple. Yet it is likely that the store owner may feel victimized, taken advantage of, not respected, and his trust in people coming into his store may be diminished.

Offensive behavior, choices that are inconsiderate, selfish, and hurtful to another may be less about the inappropriate action and much more about the true consequences of the act. So to carry this a bit further, I am not sure God particularly cares just who eats that apple but is very caring about someone who has been adversely affected for it.

All of us sin – without exception. In our society, where personal freedom is excessive, it may seem more difficult to accept this, we are so easily prone to excuse ourselves from having responsibility for another. Yet it seems that God has placed us here to live and die in communities dependent on one another. The singular command of Jesus is for us to Love one another as He has loved us – a pretty high standard!

Soon we will have the great joy of celebrating Christmas once again. In preparation for this mystical event, I offer each of you a gift – one hour for quiet, prayer and a chance for individual confession on this Thursday evening, December 19 at 7PM. Please join us and take some time to “Prepare the way of the Lord”- as the central theme of Advent invites us to do.

Our choice to “repent” as John the Baptist urges, is to say “I’m Sorry” for the actions and non-actions in my life that have been harmful to myself, to others, and to God, and to personally experience the immensity of God’s mercy and love. From this fresh experience, we can look to Bethlehem and see with even greater clarity the mystery of God among us and of being born anew in our hearts.

Fr. Ronan

December 15 ~ Third Sunday of Advent Gaudete Sunday

Today’s second reading from the letter of Saint James is four verses that are packed with meaning and encouragement. The words “patient” or “patience” appear four times.
The world will tell us that time is running out, so BUY NOW!
The Church is telling us that Jesus will come whether the shopping is done or not, so patience! This week try to build in five minutes of quiet time each day to remember a loved one in prayer.
That’s a gift we can all use, and it is priceless!

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