The Lights Went Out

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

As I was at my desk preparing to write this article, suddenly all went dark. Lily kept on snoring over on her bed, and like everyone else around town on Sunday evening, I wondered what was happening. A glance out the window made it clear the entire neighborhood was without lights. There was nothing to do other than to sit and ponder the troubles of these days reflected in the pervasive anxiety among people.

The loss of electricity meant so much that we take for granted is gone so we might sort of begin taking stock of what is left: my flashlight, my phone (how charged is it? – could I charge it in the car?), blankets/warm clothes for a cold night, some way of cooking, etc., etc. Of course, the electricity returned and all returned to normal – but should it?

The holy season of Lent has now begun and Christians are urged to embrace these forty days, maybe as if the lights are out. For me, when everything is “turned off” and I cannot busy myself with doing stuff, I settle down and enter into some welcome quiet. It is in the quiet that I turn to God and, in that space, God can get through to me! The overarching invitation of Lent is to prepare to approach the center of our Hope in the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter. It is prayer that opens us to the power of this truth and the outflow of joy it yields.

All of us can find these times frightening as we see and hear breakdowns of order and civil discourse and our children hear horrible “breaking news” alerts. What we seek and that for which we hunger can be found within, not outside of us. It is in our humble seeking God in the quiet where we can find peace.

Lights out also lets me see how much stuff is crammed into my day, because I cannot see it, do it, eat it or turn-it-on. It’s a type of fasting, which is the second pillar of the Lenten journey. That really means cutting back and/or cutting out whatever. Introducing an element of self-denial into my Lenten days frees me to be more attentive to Grace and the gift of so much all around me, often taken for granted.

Lights-out quickly makes me think of others for whom such times might be perilous; elderly who are alone, folks who are ill, families in need, those struggling with addiction and mental illness. These moments help me recognize how blessed I am and how important it is that I share my blessings, in whatever way possible with others. So, it is that almsgiving, acts of kindness, and generosity is the third pillar of the Lenten journey.

Combined, these three pillars of the Lenten journey offer us valuable tools to seek and find a much-needed refreshment in this disturbing time. We all know it will pass, yet it is in this moment we find ourselves. The Scriptures express an urging to live into today, now. Let’s turn out the lights and get going.

Fr. Ronan

First Sunday of Lent
March 5/6, 2022

The second reading from Saint Paul to the Romans is a favorite of those involved in the ministry of evangelization.
There are no “secret” disciples of the Lord.
Those who exercise good stewardship of their faith realize that publicly identifying themselves as followers of Christ has a cleansing effect on their lives.
Openly confessing Christ makes them more conscious of how they live their daily lives.
Are we content to privatize our faith or are we good stewards of a faith that we share, make public, and regularly identify as a life in Christ?

How to Love

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Expect nothing back,” Jesus says. I don’t know if you have read the book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff) by Richard Carlson. It offers advice and examples as to how we can live a loving and (more) peaceful life.

One chapter shows us a way to be patient rather than upset when someone else does an annoying thing. For instance, if a car swerves in front of you, instead of your asking, “why in the ‘%$#’ did he do that?” ask the question, “what is he trying to teach me?” It is like a game in which everyone is wise and you want to learn. That question changed my perspective a number of times.

When a car went through a very narrow opening behind a truck and careened into my lane with several inches to spare, I tried this method. Instead of leaning
on the horn and unpacking some road-rage, I asked what the swerver was teaching me. Honestly, it softened my aĴitude and gave me some compassion. I am
not trying to sell copies of Carlson’s books here, though I surely like this one.* I am pointing out how new attitudes can be helpful, and how the generous writing
of Dr. Carlson soothed me into trying one on.

Jesus lived before Dr. Carlson, of course, and he suggested the same big perspective-change. The Lord’s prose is a bit jagged, less consoling. In fact, he seems to be hammering at the crowd. In Sunday’s Gospel he describes us as trying to bargain for everything. If someone loves us, then we agree to love them in return.
If they run their car over our flower-bed or nearly knock us out of the crosswalk, then we are angry and substitute bad feelings for love. After all, who could be
nice to a robber in the act of robbing you?

Jesus recommends the opposite. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Don’t ask for anything in return. Gulp, maybe we should go back to Richard Carlson! How can we love without return? “Lend money and es. If you get a reward for each thing you do, you are just like the pagans. But is it even possible to just love and love and love and never get our own empty tank filled back up? Wouldn’t that be the road to burnout?

The wonderful clue to Jesus’ answer is found toward the boĴom half of today’s reading. He says that if we can give without guile, then we will be like “children of the Most High,” who is always kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. How can God be “always kind”? Because his needs are all already filled. His tender love does not need reward, and so it overflows to us no maĴer what we do.

If we know this, if we experience it—say, in the Sacraments, or in prayer, or in another person—and if we let it in, then maybe our need-tanks will be pre-filled. Maybe our love can start to overflow to others as God’s does.

How about that as a change in perspective?

– John Foley, S.J.

Unfortunately, Dr Carlson died in 2006 from a pulmonary embolism, during a flight from San Francisco to New York while on a promotion tour for one of his books. Maybe, following his compassionate advice, he was ready to accept! In any case, we will miss him.

https://liturgy.slu.edu/7OrdC022022/reflections_foley.html

FATHER RONAN IS ON RETREAT

I am on retreat and look forward to my return to the Parish next weekend. As always, you are in my daily prayers.
— Fr. Ronan

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time –
February 19/20, 2022

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus urges his listeners to “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
He also offers several examples of puĴing mercy into action.
Listeners can then reason their way into how to put the values of the Gospel reflected in these imperatives into practice in other situations.
Good stewards look for opportunities to exercise God’s mercy toward others.
They realize that, in doing so, their own experience of God’ mercy not only becomes more profound but affirms their hope of seeing the Lord face-to-face one day. How have we experienced God’s mercy in our lives?
How might our thinking, attitudes, words and actions reflect God’s mercy on someone else today?

Choices

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The other day, I was reading one of those emails that friends send because they find it inspiring. Am I the only person who is amazed at the volume of this kind of stuff that is circulating out there? Anyway, I do not always choose to read these types of emails – sometimes a time thing or a mood thing or a need to feel the tiny satisfaction of pressing the delete button. But I read this one.

It was about a man who was always positive – never did he seem to have a bad day or a lousy reaction to circumstances in his life. Now, this always “up” attitude both amazed and bothered others! And finally, one friend approached the man and asked him how he could be so un-bothered by life’s challenging
moments.

The explanation given was thoughtful and insightful. The man said he had arrived at a point in his life where he realized that everything is about choice. Though one cannot control everything that happens, one does have a choice as to how to respond. He decided that he would look for the positive in whatever happened and choose to focus on that. He explained that he knew there were a lot of problems and issues in his life and in the world, and he was not ignoring them; rather he was choosing to live through them finding the good that he is certain is within each moment.

It sounds so simple – maybe even naïve! Yet as I ponder the story, I see some similarities in myself. More often than not, I react to a moment without really, consciously, choosing how I wish to respond. My reaction can draw me in a direction that is not positive for others or me. It is that extra moment of conscious awareness to recognize what is happening and deliberately choose how I wish to respond. That, for me, is the element I often by-pass.

One evening, in a conversation with a group of young adults, a discussion arose about the intensity of their fast-paced, time pressured, scripted lives and the
tension and stress they felt because they had very limited available time. The same holds true for many parents. Often they speak of the hectic pace of daily life where children have so many activities and commitments that a typical calendar is crammed with appointments and “to-do’s”, hanging on to the refrigerator door – by a thread.

I wonder why we choose to live with such intensity? Or perhaps we forget that we can make some different choices? The truth is that there will always be more to do. So we need to carve out time for what is essential which takes priority over what is necessary.

There is a beautiful scene from the Old Testament where God tells Moses to go to the people and invite them to make a choice: “Today I set before you, life and death – to whichever you stretch out your hand – you will have”. Every new day, even before we put our feet on the floor, we have a choice of how we wish to live that day – in a life- giving way or not. No one else can make that choice for us – it is ours alone to make.

God is very clear on how we should live each day: choosing life – a life that is more in balance. Choose a life in which we can appreciate the gifts with which we have been blessed – family, creation, a deeper relationship with God; a life in which we are not so overwhelmed that we forget to treat others and ourselves with respect, patience, kindness, humor. and love. Indeed, that is precisely how God treats you and me every day – maybe we should make the same choice.

Fr. Ronan

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 12/13, 2022

The prophet Jeremiah minces no words in today’s first reading:
“Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings … whose heart turns away from the LORD.”
And the prophet’s “beatitude” resembles that of Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel reading when he proclaims:
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.”
Good stewards understand that what the world values is not consistent with Gospel values.
They realize that God has placed in their midst all the gifts, charisms, and resources needed
to bring Christ to a world desperately in need of his loving presence.
But to exercise good stewardship over God’s gifts takes a great deal of trust.
How does our stewardship reflect our trust in the Lord?
What did we do today to give others hope in Christ Jesus?

The Prayer

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

After over 30 years of priesthood and active ministry, I should not be surprised, yet often am, at how the prayer, The Our Father, has a way of comforting people. For example, when standing around a hospital bed when a member of the family is close to death – inviting people to join in this prayer – sort of changes everything. At one level, loved ones experience this action is DOING something in an otherwise helpless situation. On another level, there is the comfort of the
familiarity of the prayer and the very calling to mind of God as Father that touches people’s hearts. And on yet another level, turning to prayer changes our entire disposition and takes us to a different place.

At times during the Family Mass, I invite children to join me in the sanctuary as we say The Our Father. Of course, the kids love it and as they are holding hands I ask them, “If you and I have the same father what does that make you to me?” The children quickly conclude the answer is we are brother/sister to one another.
Standing in our magnificent church with these beautiful children – that is a wonderful truth to celebrate!

Yet as we know, The Our Father is prayed by millions and millions of Christians. And it is fair to say there are many who do not look like me, share the same history, language, traditions, culture, beliefs or even vote as I do or support the same baseball team that I do! And there are those who may not even know how to pray this prayer. Does that mean that they are NOT my brother or sister? These two simple opening words, Our Father, which Jesus taught us, are radical, in every possible way! They push back against age old prejudices, discriminations, and divisions and demonstrate that God sees us all as brothers and sisters. It is not a coincidence the prayer came from the lips of Jesus himself.

There are so many deep and extraordinary truths buried in this prayer. Another phrase that I find both comforting and challenging is “Thy will be done …” When I first pray these words, it is comforting in that it implies that God has a plan for me – and because I often do not seem to have a plan – I’m glad God does! And yet when I really think about this part of the prayer, it means that God’s will is dominant, rather than my will. This is a big step and it may well give one pause! I think we usually say this part of the prayer easily, sort of sliding over the words and maybe not fully realizing it means each of us is asking God to help us put our own will off to the side and make His will the action plan of our lives. That is a big and very beautiful prayer – and its fulfillment will not happen overnight.

I love the part of The Our Father when we ask for forgiveness of our sins; that is a part I need to pray often. However Jesus has a contingency clause built into
this petition – “As we forgive those who trespass against us”. This is a troubling condition! Forgiving another may be one of the most difficult tasks a person has to confront – most especially when the hurt seems to have been very serious and intentional. And yet there does not seem to be a way around this – God insists He is
ready to forgive us, whatever, but when needed we need to take a forgiving step as well.

Arguably the most exquisite prayer in the entire Bible, The Our Father is both deeply comforting and powerfully challenging to all of us. At the same time our
familiarity with the prayer may dull our appreciation for the richness and depth of Jesus’ words.

In this challenging winter season, perhaps refreshing our familiarity with The Our Father is a wonderful undertaking and certainly the perfect prayer.

Fr. Ronan

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 5/6, 2022

In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah we get a glimpse of a model for Christian stewards to follow.
Within the temple, God’s voice shakes the foundations and causes the natural world to shake and tremble.
The Lord asks: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”

Isaiah replies to the call of God for service with immediacy and enthusiasm: “Here I am, send me!”
There is no hesitation. There are no excuses, contingencies, or “what-ifs.”
Good stewards know that responding to the Lord’s call to serve is never easy, never simple to grasp, never designed for ready comfort and success.
But the call needs a response. What about us?
What does it take to shake us into an enthusiastic response?
To say to God: “Here I am, Lord. Send me!”

Getting through the hard times

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Recently, I have met with a number of people who are going through some difficult times. Some of the situations are medical, even life-threatening. Others are economical. Then there are those that are relational. And as each of us knows, when one area of our lives is not going well, it negatively impacts other areas as well, and we find ourselves struggling to cope with a variety of challenges.

At times like these, it’s not uncommon for us to wonder, even aloud, “Why me?” as we strive to make meaning out of what we’re experiencing. We can have
thoughts that we’re being treated unfairly, or have the worst luck; or we struggle to figure out what we’ve “done wrong to deserve this.”

Some wonder why a good God would allow such a painful event to happen; or they try to resist the belief or even do believe that they’re being punished by none other than God. When we’re grappling with these notions about God, it can be especially tumultuous because we find it hard to turn to God for the help and
consolation we need if we believe God is the one who is causing it.

People have been grappling with the same questions from the beginning of time. Our ancestors in faith believed that if you were having a hard time it was because you had sinned or perhaps your parents had sinned. But Jesus rejected this notion ( John 9:2-3). If we ever wonder if God is causing our difficulties, look to Jesus, the human face of God. Nowhere in scripture does it say that Jesus made someone blind or lame or leprous, or that Jesus ostracized anyone or wished them harm.
His heart was opened to all, and he strived to bring healing and hope to all, especially those who were suffering.

Sometime ago there was a popular book published by a Jewish Rabbi: “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” Interesting reading and the question is great. In my own mind, as one who has been through difficult times and has asked the question, I have come up with several responses.

One: Bad things happen to everyone and good things happen to everyone.
Two: Goodness or badness may be determined by our expectations.
Three: What begins as bad sometimes turns out good.
Four: What begins as good sometimes turns out bad.
Five: Life is what happens in the good times and bad times.
Six: Life is messy for everyone.
Seven: God is with me in all times.
Eight: I will always have, from God, what I need to go forward.
Nine: Life IS beautiful.
Ten: “Some of God’s greatest gifts are our unanswered prayers.” (Garth Brooks)

I don’t ask myself the “Why me?” question as much these days as I once did,
even though it comes to my lips from time to time. Usually I catch myself and
chuckle as I think Why not me. And then I turn to the One who loves me unconditionally and whose promise to NEVER abandon or forsake me holds firm.

Fr. Ronan
jronan@stmarystcatherine.org

January 30
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In speaking to the prophet Jeremiah, God reminds him “before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations, I appointed you.”
Whether a prophet or a disciple, the message is the same – God’s love never fails and we are to mirror that love in our lives.
St. Paul describes what that love look like in our lives.
It is patient, kind, not jealous, not rude, does not hold grudges, is hopeful and truthful.
To be loving as St. Paul describes is a tall order, and yet there is no doubt that this is our task as Disciples of Christ.

One For All

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Anyone who has ever watched the classic movie, The Three Musketeers, remembers that stirring call the three men proclaimed as a sign of their unity and strength: “One for All and All for One”. You recall the simple plot: the young French peasant, D’Artagnan, has a dream of becoming one of the King’s Musketeers. He challenges two of the experienced Musketeers to a duel, armed with more enthusiasm and passion than skill. Circumstances change quickly and the three men find themselves needing each other in a fight with Cardinal Richelieu’s guard.

Well, I am getting carried away! The film was released as early as January, 1935 with countless new releases since, all of them popular. And I have to think one of the elements in the popularity of the films has been the enduring theme of each committed to all and all committed to each. There is a simple truth in the soldiers’ proud claim that continues in the military today and in countless structures from families to communities, and organizations.

How does it fit into the community of Charlestown? There is a continual tension between our individuality and our community. Our personal needs and interests are our own, each unique. And yet we are called to live in common, at whatever level that might be. Often our individual preferences are sacrificed for the greater good of the common good. In truth and practice, the entire process is messy and such is the case with democracy. There needs be a give and take. There are tensions and disagreements and yet, our systems arrive at a final position often by majority rule, guided by laws and systems of justice.

The Three Musketeers were very likely Catholic, as were so many in France in that era. And so the sacrifice of one for the other might have been not only strategically smart, it happens to have a sound theological base. The Christian believes that service to and for others is a way for a more complete and joyful life. The teaching that “In giving we receive” imitates Jesus and yields mature, healthy individuals and families.

Sadly, one can see the opposite of the Musketeers slogan in a mindset that is pathetically self-centered. When this is seen in children, parents usually work to correct it (think about the tears that go along with learning to share). When it is seen in adolescents, it exacerbates the already self-conscious youth and makes maturing much more painful. And when it is seen in adults, it shows in a tragic loneliness and searching for fulfillment.

In Laudato Sí, Pope Francis has underlined the fundamental connection that exists between the environmental crisis and the social crisis that we are currently experiencing and asks us for a personal and community ecological conversion. He often reminds us “everything is interconnected.” Given the stresses and trials of this time of pandemic, climate change, and all that is dividing us in our country, the clarion call to care for one another needs us to willingly and faithfully respond more than ever.

The Three Musketeers had it right: One for All and All for One. How could each of us put that into practice this day?

Fr. Ronan

January 23, 2022
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Re-read today’s Gospel. Put yourself in the scene: you are in the synagogue, perhaps your family is beside you.
Jesus, the carpenter’s son, gets up to read – He is serving as “the lector.”
The carpenter’s son reads a passage from the prophet Isaiah about the promise of the Messiah.
Upon finishing, he looks at the people gathered and says: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Who are the blind, or the oppressed or the poor in your life that need to hear the “Good News” of Jesus Christ?
Today, you are that lector!

Ordinary Time

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

There always seems to be a bit of a letdown after the holiday season passes and we roll into the winter months. Looking ahead into January, February, and March, springtime seems far off. Liturgically, we enter into what is called ORDINARY TIME. This is the season when the priest
wears green vestments at Mass, and there are no major feasts and celebrations like Christmas and Easter on the horizon.

After such a time like the rush of the past weeks, I think we could all use a break – time to stop, look around, and kind of get our bearings. If we were to do that as individuals and as a parish, all of the readings for this weekend, especially the reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:4-11), have a beautiful message to offer us.

To me, St. Paul’s letter seems to be a tribute to the complex and wondrous thing called our differences. Some might call this a tribute to diversity, a popular word these days. The sacred author acknowledges that there are many different gifts and talents and the source of them is the same: God’s Spirit.

We are all so very different. We come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and our color, race, culture, and background may vary. Each individual is a work of art! No two of us are exactly alike. Even identical twins are distinct as time passes. However, different as we are, we have so very much in common. God has seen to that! We share the same hopes, dreams, pains, joys, and sorrows. We worry about the same things and struggle with the same issues, and on and on. Of course, there are differences in expressions and points of view, yet at the very root of everything; we are all God’s creation.

Yet, if we are so alike, why do we have such a hard time getting along with one another? Why do we let our differences often keep us so far apart? Each of us is born with our own freedom and our own ego and will, and we are born into a sinful world that we help maintain. The choice to forgive each other our shortcomings and faults and the choice to love our neighbor is a big one and it does not come easily. Our own ego, selfishness, and righteousness often get in the way. Nonetheless, our faith points us to our merciful, loving Lord wherein we find the way to move forward daily toward that unity with one another that offers us hope and from which love blossoms.

So let us celebrate our sameness and all that also sets us apart! As we do that, perhaps in this ordinary week of this ordinary New Year, we can experience the extraordinary power of God’s Grace calling us to be as ONE.

Fr. Ronan

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 15/16, 2022

In today’s second reading, Saint Paul makes a list of gifts dispensed to members of the Christian community by the Holy Spirit. Each gift bestowed has a specific purpose for the person for whom it is intended: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation.
Good stewards know these gifts are not meant to be kept hidden by the recipient but to be shared with the community and beyond.

As we begin a new year, let us reflect on the gift the Holy Spirit has given to each of us.
Do we recognize this gift? How was it intended that we use this gift?
Are we being good stewards of this gift?

It Is the Little Things

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

For several days now as I meet people walking around town, I wish them happy New Year and, of course, they respond in the same way. The
saying seems somewhat trite and I am not sure what I am really wishing for the person. This New Year 2022, is fraught with anxiety in all corners of the globe and in the midst of it, I appear to be glibly wishing somebody happiness. I wonder?

Maybe I want to hope that each one of us will work to make the new year happy. I think most of us find some measure of happiness when we have contributed, when we have improved a situation, when we have connected in a positive way with someone else, and when we have both shared and received the gift of love. The troubles that surround us in these times are certainly daunting to the point where each of us wonders if we can really do much about them.

We do hear that cooperating with all the recommendations and mandates makes a difference for ourselves and for others regarding control of the pandemic; so that certainly is making a contribution. Yet at the same time, the pandemic has caused isolation for many and brought about increased depression and worry for others. So making positive connections is kind of difficult.

I remember hearing a story about a little boy on a beach where a large number of baby turtles had been washed up onto the dunes by a storm. They needed to be in the water or die. There were many hundreds of them and the little boy, ran to each little turtle, picked it up and raced down to water’s edge placing it in the tides. A man watched from a distance and finally approached the boy asking what he was doing. The boy explained exactly what he was doing, saving the life of the turtles. The man observed that there were thousands of them so the boy’s efforts made no difference. The boy picked up a baby turtle looked at the man and said, “It makes a difference for this one”.

No one of us can solve the problems of the world but every one of us can do
something. It is easy to become cynical in the face of the enormity of the challenges of the times. It is easy to talk ourselves into complacency because the issues are so overwhelming. It is more difficult to believe that every single person, from a little boy to an executive in an office, can do something every day if not every hour of every day to make a difference for others.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once taught: “God is not calling on us to do great things rather to do little things with great love”. Those little things can be little things! How we greet one another; how we look up from a mobile device, make eye contact with another and smile; how we create space for one another; how we show simple acts of kindness acknowledging the dignity and value of one another everything makes a difference.

These days can beat us down if we let them. However, we have a choice to do something, little things at the very least that truly make a difference. Most faith traditions call on us to love one another as we are loved by our gracious God. I believe this is the formula for a Happy New Year!

Father Ronan

January 9
The Baptism of the Lord

Our Gospel recounts the story about Jesus’ baptism and the important words spoken by God about Jesus “You are my Beloved Son” Isaiah uses similar words. “Here is my servant, my chosen one in whom I am pleased . . . “ During the coming week, take some time to pray and reread these scriptures. Hear God say these words to you “I formed you and set you as a light” “You are my beloved, . . . with you am well pleased” As you acknowledge God’s love and delight in you ask God for the courage to witness His truth.

Thinking Outside the Box

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

We all have our way of doing things and looking at situations. Usually, we believe ours is the best way. Honest conversation between friends can include
sharing our points of view and trying to persuade another that our vision is more correct then theirs. For example a couple of guys discussing sports who are avid fans – maybe for opposing teams (i.e. the Bengals vs. the Pats) – loud conversation will follow! Child rearing practices can get us going as well (i.e. let the child decide vs. make the choice for the child). In every case, it takes a bit of patience and openness to hear another’s point of view that is very different from one’s own (i.e. a republican listening to a democrat and visa-versa).

Today’s feast, The Epiphany, is one of those remarkable moments in our history when we are all called to think differently. The deepest meaning of this
celebration pushes everyone out of his/her comfort zone to think of God in a
new way. Consider the situation: Jerusalem is a big city, nonetheless likely a
small town in many ways. The arrival of three very different and important
strangers (language, color, dress, customs, foods, etc.) asking questions about a
local reality (a newborn king of the Jewish people) evokes attention up to the
local king. – “Who are these people and why on earth would they have traveled so far to this place? And what is this about a king?”

So uncommon would such an event be that people took notice. We should too. “From the East, they came” and to find and pay homage to a newborn King.
We read that they followed the star from Jerusalem and found their way to the
stable in Bethlehem. In spite of the humble circumstances of the place, they recognized the King and offered their gifts.

God’s Son has been born into our world and His purpose and interests are not limited by race, color, ethnic background, social class, gender, political position or any other common distinction that differentiates us one from another. The
Epiphany insists that you and I think of God as bigger than we usually do. The
implications of this thought are significant. For example, all those whom we consider our enemies, may not be God’s enemies. The whole philosophy of war and capital punishment, immigration and refugees, gays and straits, rich and poor, and on and on takes on a new perspective in light of the Epiphany. The insistence of Jesus in Mt. 25, “Whatever you do to the least… you do to Me” flows from our understanding of the Epiphany.

An epiphany is understood as a moment of new awareness or insight that opens up a fresh way of looking at something. No wonder this beautiful word has been incorporated into our vocabulary. What a great way to start the New Year – with an epiphany on the Feast of the Epiphany!

Fr. Ronan

Heartfelt gratitude to all who were able to decorate our beautiful church for Christmas. Featured in this picture left to right are Maria, Jeanne, Fr. Mark, Nancy (who has the wonderful artistic vision), Shirley, Lauren, and Oscar. Not featured in the picture are: Lynne, John, (our Music Director who also has that creative gift and added the greenery and ribbon that’s is weaved across the flowers and added the wreath on the choir loft), James, Jim, and John, who picked up the flowers in Danvers.

January 1 – Solemnity of the
Blessed Virgin Mary,
the Mother of God

Saturday, January 1, 2022 In today’s first reading, God bestows three blessings upon Moses and directs him to extend those blessings to others:
The Lord blesses you and keeps you.
The Lord lets his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord looks upon you kindly and gives you peace.
Good stewards realize these blessings are showered upon them in a unique and special way each time they receive the Eucharist, and exercising good stewardship of the Lord’s blessings in this sacrament begins by receiving these gifts with profound gratitude.
Take time this week to memorize these marvelous blessings and repeat them to yourself frequently.
Make them part of your morning prayer each day.

January 2
The Epiphany of the
Lord

The readings today stress the importance of light – Christ’s light. Isaiah states,
“. . .upon you the Lord shines.”
The Magi followed the light of a star that led them to Christ, the Lord, an encounter that changed their lives.
Do you believe that the Lord looks upon you and shines forth from you?
Has each encounter you have had with Christ brought about a change in you, in your way of living?
When you humbly and honestly follow Christ and live in his light, “nations shall walk by your light.”
People will notice something different about you.
So on this Epiphany – let your Christ Light shrine!

The Family

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

In November 1954, Perry Como recorded and RCA released the popular Christmas song, “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays”. By now you have heard it on your car radio and in shopping malls thousands of times this year alone!

If you listen closely to the lyrics of this song, you’ll find that they offer a simple and enduring truth: when the time comes to celebrate certain moments and seasons in our lives, we want to be home. Home usually means our family as well as our town and country. We want to be with the familiar, the comfortable, that place we know, and especially with those who know us, accept us, and love us.

The celebration of Christmas, perhaps more than any other occasion, draws us home. My own childhood memories of Christmas at our home on Percival Street in Dorchester include a flood of images of a big Christmas tree and gifts, along
with parents, kids and, of course, a dog in the middle of it all. With all of that comes the gift of being together, sharing, feeling safe, and being happy. Because it’s so familiar, we can all too often fail to appreciate the gift of family. The very
source of our lives and those who formed and cared for us are so much a part of us, that we can overlook our family when counting our blessings.

Today is the feast of the Holy Family, always celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas. On this feast day, the Church invites us to see in the family of Joseph, Mary, and the Child Jesus the simple beauty and truth that the Son of God was
born into a human family – just like yours or mine. This celebration can help each of us to recall how precious the gift of family can be. Though human and fallible, our family, nonetheless, is uniquely ours. Sadly, hurts, mistakes or whatever, can fracture family unity and cause enormous pain and damage. It’s so astonishing to see how deep and serious the consequences of the breakup of a family can be. Regardless of the circumstances, the reality is that if one member is
separated, every member suffers.

The Grace of these days holds the possibility for everyone to act in ways that can strengthen the family. If there is too much distance between you and another in the family, if there are hurts that have lingered too long or anything else that
has damaged your family relationships, why not seize this day and extend an olive branch? Why wait? What benefit could there be in delaying?

Let’s take the time to reflect and ask ourselves: “what can I do today to strengthen my family?” What is it that a family member might need that I could give that would bring us closer together? Let’s not delay because we are looking for the precisely correct moment. More often than not, the right time never comes!

In all ways, this is a day to be grateful for the gift of our families – imperfect as they may be! This is the day to see that family is often diminished by the popular culture in both subtle and aggressive ways. Let us choose not to be complacent for our own sakes. We, our Parish, our community, our city, our nation, and our world are only as strong as the family unit.

On this day, we remember that Jesus, Himself, belonged to a human family and in that we find hope. In this Christmas season, as the canned Christmas music fades away, let us be grateful in every possible way for our families and pray for
the grace to heal what is broken and strengthen whatever may be weak, for our sake and the sake of our world.


Fr. Ronan

The Feast of the Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary and Joseph
December 26th. 2021

We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on the first Sunday after Christmas! This feast day is a reminder to us of the example to us Mary and Joseph set for all of us in welcoming Jesus into their lives. The Holy Family serves as a model for us all in which to live in faith and simplicity.

Prayer for Family Commitment

Dear God, our Father, you have called on all Christian families to be a sign of Your love to the world.

Help us to be generous with the gifts of life and love that you have showered on our family. May we share them so that our homes become true signs of unitive and fruitful love.

Let us never forget to thank you each day for all that sustains us and to look to Christ, who comes to us in the events of family life, in the sacraments of the Church and in service to the poor.

In all of this, our family becomes a living expression of your Church, a hallowed home of life and love. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may all of us -spouses, parents and children- share, as members of his Body, in Jesus’ mission to build a civilization of love. Father, we ask this in Jesus’ name in union with the Holy Spirit. Amen.