FR. RONAN’S BLOG

Living In Hope

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Living in the Advent Time means living with hope – looking to the horizon with the expectation that Immanuel, God with us, becomes ever more present to each and all. Yet, this is a deeply personal journey for each of us, for it is about a relationship offered by Christ to me and to you. Everyone knows relationships need attention if they are to grow and flourish. Maybe we can call Advent, relationship nurturing-time.

Throughout each of our lives, there are times of joy and times of sadness, times of success and times of failure, times of hope and times of despair. In all of the chapters of our lives, the one thing that sustains us in the hard times and amplifies the happy times is a meaningful relationship. Often the relationship is in the form of a friend, a partner, a family member or a lover.

The mystery of the Incarnation, the enfleshment of God as a human person can best be understood as God befriending humankind. Yet friendship is not even an adequate word to describe the birth of Jesus Christ in that stable in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. Christmas celebrates God’s radical act of love for all people.

However, relationships of any significance are always mutual. In this relationship, God makes the first move in the person of Jesus. The ministry of Jesus continues as men and women through the ages are invited into this relationship with the God/Man. Through the sacraments, beginning with Baptism, the relationship offered holds the promise of not only friendship, but more of intimacy.

In this Covid blanketed December, the struggles every one of us face can be daunting. The friendship offered in Christ is more than enough to sustain us. Not just to keep us afloat, but also to give us hope. For God is with us – Immanuel is the fundamental truth of Christmas and always.

Fr. Ronan

Third Sunday of Advent
– Gaudete Sunday –
December 12/13, 2020

In today’s second reading Paul concludes his letter to the Christian community at Thessalonica by providing it with actions to take as they wait for the return of the Lord.
The first action is to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. This does not sound easy in a time of pandemic. The two words that make this task difficult are “always” and “all.” This means giving thanks and rejoicing even when our circumstances are not always moments of joy and thanksgiving, or when we are confronted with a broken world.
Prayerful stewards rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances, even during these uncertain and stressful times, because they are people of hope. A good reflection this week would be how the season of Advent can give you reason to hope.

We Are All Waiting

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Waiting is an everyday part of life in Ecuador: for busses, banks, stores, markets, almost anything and always, one waits. Slowly, it became clear to me that efficiency and availability of resources in any form are luxuries and not the experience of the poor. The poor wait. Actually, this truth is captured in the common use of the phrase and concept of mañana, usually meaning whatever one is looking or waiting for will not be available today, but maybe tomorrow. Wait.

I am not a patient man – I hate to wait for anything. Usually, I am impatient
with myself and with anyone else and so, for me, waiting requires a change of attitude and all the rest. I have to step back and take the long view. I need to see the moment in the context of the big picture and, although I don’t easily choose that, I confess that to wait can be a good thing. I mean to say the waiting invites me inside myself and helps me slow down and reflect, often finding the cause of my impatience groundless – in the big picture.

Advent 2020 is unlike any other we have known. We are all anxiously waiting to get to the other side of the pandemic. Yet Advent waiting is not meant to be a time of emptiness or frustration. The Church urges us to use these weeks to grow in patience and to reflect on the big picture, something beneficial for all of us. These weeks and the rich liturgies of these Advent days, speak of the hope of the ages: that One is coming to bring relief and freedom.

Advent is a beautiful time to even refresh one’s dreams for oneself, for one’s
family and friends, and yes, even our world. What might they be? What stands in the way of these dreams becoming real? How can one overcome these obstacles? Maybe these waiting days can help one see with greater clarity what matters most in one’s life and choose to move away from the less important.

Waiting in the Advent time can be like going to the gym to exercise; li’le by
li’le one grows in strength and stamina. Yet this kind of waiting is best when
complimented by prayer and acts of kindness. The prayer can be simple, a daily time of quiet and maybe reading a passage from Sacred Scripture or a devotional book.

Many in these days seek to connect with everything from Harvest on Vine to Globe Santa to Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities. These and any opportunity to express charity and solidarity with the poor and suffering can transform waiting to a time of Grace.

Among the poor where waiting is a way of life, one rarely waits alone. People stand together, people reach out to others and many share something of their stories – amazing than that the waiting often brings with it the gift of solidarity with others. Think about it: have you noticed how an unexpected delay while going somewhere finds one suddenly speaking to another such that frequently friendship and stories are shared? Often enough, the wait becomes something much less burdensome and the moment is transformed.

Advent is a time to wait… ah, not just an ordinary inconvenience, but rather a special time that contains immeasurable Grace for those who would choose to wait with some quiet, prayer and reflection on the big picture. This waiting can help us grow in greater solidarity with one another, anticipating the immeasurable gift from Bethlehem.

Fr. Ronan

Second Sunday of Advent
Weekend of December 5/6, 2020

Today’s second reading is about Christ’s coming again, “The day of the Lord,” Peter calls it, but that day isn’t December 25th. It’s that other day, that second-coming day about which Peter is concerned. He waits with great hope and anticipation for God to remake the earth into a place of perfect justice and peace. And he sets some demanding goals for the Christian community as it awaits that final day of accounting and reconciliation: strive to be at peace, without spot or blemish.
Christian stewards work for peace.
As we await the coming of Christmas, what can we do to promote peace in our homes, workplaces, community and world?


MARANATHA

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

From the earliest of times, the Israelite community looked toward the arrival of the promised Messiah. The prayer for the speedy arrival of the Lord was often uttered in two Aramean words, Maran’athah. As time passed, the word continues to be used in song and verse with the meaning, “Come Lord Jesus”.

On November 29, we begin the four-week Advent journey toward the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Yet this year the holy season of preparation and waiting seems dwarfed by the crippling effects of the pandemic. Everything that is normative for the Christmas season seems at risk from Christmas parties to visits to Santa. Advent liturgies, Masses, singing, prayer groups and more are all changed to virtual or canceled.

Through the ages, the longing for the Messiah-King was prompted by persecution and suffering. People looked for one to save, to deliver, to protect and care for them. The greater the suffering, the more intense the longing and hope. So what about us in this Advent, 2020? Without question our community, nation and world are overwhelmed by this pandemic causing deep suffering among all people, especially the most vulnerable. The prayer, Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus, has never been more timely and needed.

What do you suppose it will look like as The Lord answers that prayer? I do
not think it means you will find yourself humming Jingle Bells throughout the day or stringing extra sets of Christmas lights around your home or neighborhood.

Opening our minds and hearts to the Christ Child, the unfathomable mystery of God becoming human and choosing the most humble of circumstances for His birth. pulls us into the essence of the God Who is Love. Focusing on this truth and mystery not only opens us to receiving the Love of the Child Jesus but also impels us to imitate that love in our lives with one another.

Praying Maranatha is the first step toward an encounter with our Savior, our King and Redeemer. “Going” to Bethlehem and later to Nazareth and throughout Galilee toward Jerusalem will offer each of us everything we need to live fruitfully through this pandemic and beyond.

For me, Maranatha is not a one-time prayer offered as Advent begins. It is a
mantra, a simple and profound invitation to the Lord Jesus to accompany me in my days. Join me as together we humbly pray through the crises of these times the prayer that gives birth to Hope. Maranatha.

Fr. Ronan

First Sunday of Advent
November 28/29, 2020

The season of Advent is upon us, and in today’s Gospel Jesus delivers a simple message through the pen of Saint Mark: “Be watchful! Be alert!” Christian stewards understand what Jesus meant when he said,
“It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task.”
Good stewards realize that to each one a task is assigned by God. They have been set in a particular place and station in life, and have been gifted with unique relationships.
How do we respond to the tasks or cultivate our relationships in a way that keeps us alert for the return of Christ?

Thanksgiving – 2020

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

As the number of those diagnosed with COVID continues to rise and fear and worry pervade the land, this week we celebrate one of the most cherished of our national holidays, Thanksgiving. Yet, for all of us, things are different this year. There are restrictions on public gatherings and likely many family members cannot come together to share Thanksgiving. Many families have lost loved ones and many more face economic insecurity.

How do we celebrate a day of thanks when so many are suffering, sick, grieving, lonely and fearful? The first Thanksgivings were in response to abundant harvests. Subsequent celebrations also seem to call forth lists of items for which we are grateful. Maybe this year we want to change our approach to Thanksgiving by focusing not on what we have rather on who we are.

Each of us is a child of God, completely unique, precious and one-of-a kind!
We are the work of God’s hands, created in love and for the purpose of love.
Everything we are is gift, every breath, smell, sound and taste. The energy of our Creator is Love and the longing of our hearts is Love. A visceral response to this truth must be gratitude. To give thanks to God for who we are, rather than what we have, is the most fundamental and critical form of gratitude. Living in that gratitude our response to those around us is more naturally authentic, grateful, and loving.

I recall Thanksgiving dinners with family and friends when the host invited
each person gathered to share one thing for which he/she was grateful. Those moments were always beautiful as young and old, college students and grandparents spoke eloquently and from the heart. Yet this year, because we have all been changed by this pandemic, we can do more.

Perhaps Thanksgiving, 2020 offers each of us a sober moment to take stock of the immense struggles all around and perhaps within us. The harshness of this time is inescapable and it can also be an opportunity to strip away any superficialities of this holiday and embrace a new and deeper prayer of thanksgiving for our very being and the love that surrounds us.

Fr. Ronan

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe
November 21/22, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Saint Matthew offers a compelling vision of the end-time, when the people of all the nations are brought before the Lord to give an account of their lives and actions.
Interestingly, the sheep, the righteous ones, are rewarded for having acted with love and compassion without having recognized the face of Christ in others. Good stewards recognize those in need of their care as gifts from God. They know that they are the instruments of Christ’s active, loving presence in the world.
How will we treat others this week: our family members, neighbors, customers or strangers?
What accounting will we make to the Lord for their care?

2019-2020 Financial Report

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The Parish Finance Council is pleased to provide the Annual Financial Report of St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish for fiscal 2019-2020. (A complete set of the financial statements, including a detailed Balance Sheet is available on our Parish Website, StmaryStcatherine.org)

We are extremely grateful for the extraordinary generosity of both our parishioners and the Charlestown community at large during what has been the most challenging period in our lifetimes. Despite the impact of the pandemic, we ended the fiscal year in a strong financial position with a decline in net assets of only $31,235 as of June 30, 2020. Having to stop the celebration of mass for several months obviously had a negative impact on the primary source of our funds offertory collections. However, an increase of more than $45,000 for the Grand Annual collection conducted at the end of 2019 more than offset the postpandemic decline in collections through June. In addition, an increase in on-line giving helped mitigate the loss of in-pew collections. As a result, our total offertory for the fiscal year of $445,943 exceeded the prior year by approximately $41,000. Because our weekly and monthly collections continue to lag behind normal, pre-pandemic levels by approximately 15%, we would ask that you strongly consider switching to on-line giving if you have not already done so.

Sacramentals were also affected by the pandemic, declining 8% to $45,606.
Rental income of $115,750 remained steady with the prior year. Gifts, and especially bequests, are items that can vary significantly from year to year. Two major bequests totaling $121,459 along with an increase in gifts of nearly $20,000 helped to offset the decline in other sources of funds allowing us to continue our much needed Parish ministries.

Our community’s response to the pandemic is perhaps best illustrated by the incredible support of our most visible ministry, Harvest on Vine Food Pantry. Recognizing that the economic impact of the pandemic would increase the need for food assistance, our parishioners and other members of the community stepped up and contributed over $252,000, an increase of $94,000 or nearly 60%. It is incredibly heartening to see that we, as a Christian community, are truly living the words of the gospel.

With the notable exception of costs associated with the food pantry, all major operating expense categories remained at or below the prior year levels. We have now completed largest capital project undertaken in recent years – the interior painting and restoration of our beautiful church. More than half of the cost of this project ~ $351,000 was incurred by the end of June and is reflected in the accompanying summary. The initial phase of the Inspiring Hope campaign raised most, though not all, of the funds necessary for the restoration. In addition, because many campaign pledges extend over a 5-year period, we obtained a loan from the Archdiocese to ensure that we could complete the project on time. If you have not had an opportunity to contribute to this magnificent project, please consider a gift at this time with a notation of – Painting.

The Parish Finance Council is deeply appreciative of your support, especially this year when many people experienced financial hardships. Our budget for 2020 -2021 projects a deficit. For those of you who are able, we would earnestly ask that you consider increasing the level of your financial commitment to the Parish so we can maintain a balanced operating budget while continuing all of our Parish ministries that help so many in our community. Stay safe and well.

Parish Finance Council
Fr. Ronan (Chair), Nancy Higgins (Vice chair), Brian Fleming, Dennis Hanson, Maureen Moore, Tom Mosel, Bob Rooney, James Santosuosso (Ex-officio), Kevin Walsh

Thirty-Third Sunday Ordinary Time
November 14/15, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus delivers the parable of the talents; using the example of money rather than abilities or skills. It’s a story about investments, risks and returns. Stewards understand that God has given them an abundance of spiritual gifts.
They know God doesn’t want them to simply receive these blessings and bury them in fear, but to multiply them; to use these gifts to serve Him and others; to spread Christ’s Good News; to go and make disciples of others. Good stewards invest what God has given them in the service of others and are prepared to render an account when the Lord returns.
Reflect this week on how you are returning your own God-given gifts back to God with increase.

Yes, But …

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Some years ago, I was privileged to befriend a Maryknoll priest who had served many years in mission in Asia. As our friendship grew we often enjoyed times sharing our respective mission experiences, marveling at the similarities across radically different cultures. My years had been spent in Ecuador in the Pacific coastal city of Guayaquil as well as in the Peruvian Andes. Tom spent more than 30 years in urban and rural regions of Asia.

In one conversation, I recall asking Tom how he adapted to such different cultural expectations in his day-to day-ministry. Among other things, he explained he tried to eliminate the word “but” from his vocabulary. I was fascinated and asked him to explain further. He described how the decision altered the way he listened to others, that is it created a space of acceptance to hear the other without constructing a contrary response. My friend invited me to try it – eliminate “but” from my vocabulary. I have been trying to do just that for 20 years, but it is not easy, although it is an enjoyable challenge.

This week we are living might well be recalled as one unprecedented in modern history. Between the pandemic, the national elections, and the economy, combined with pervasive anxiety on the part of many, no one is certain about what tomorrow will bring. The instability of this moment is the perfect time for cynicism and fear to prevail.

Both cynicism and fear feed on themselves. They are self-generating as long as they are given the oxygen of our a0ention. The platforms of all media sources amplify uncertainty and worry. Everyone is weary and we all want the noise to stop.

Is it possible that a choice to stop using the word BUT could help us find a pause/slow down or stop bu0on? When I replace but with and, I can open a space for God’s Grace to enter. For I believe God’s loving Spirit is always present, seeking an entry into our hearts and minds BUT we can be so constrained by the intensity of these times, an entry-point is unavailable. That can change and each of us needs that to change. We desperately need the hope and profound awareness of God’s Love, which is all around us, to prevail.

Try it!

Fr. Ronan

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time November 7/8, 2020

Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven with ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five of them were prudent.
The foolish did not prepare for the wait, they brought no extra oil to keep their flames burning bright. The prudent bridesmaids brought extra oil, just in case the wait was longer than they had expected.
And the wait was long. Some of those who were supposed to be waiting were not prepared for the wait, with disastrous consequences.
Good stewards heed Jesus’ warning:
Be prepared to wait for the Lord’s return.
Is your faith strong enough to endure the wait?
Will the “flames” of passion for the Lord endure?
What are you doing to keep your passion for the Lord from burning out?

When They Come Marching In . . .

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

As a child, my image of a saint was always someone who seemed very remote from my world. As I grew older and could learn more about the men and women who have been proclaimed saints in our Church, my understanding of them grew as I read their stories, often heroic and sometimes wonderfully simple. I guess I was surprised to realize that, while there are many “great” saints about whom much is known by many (like St. Francis of Assisi and Saint Theresa of Lisieux), there are also a number of great men and women declared saints, about whom less is known and even then, only by a few.

Our Church teaches that we are all called to sainthood – this is our destiny. And I think many of us know firsthand, people whom we consider saints. By “saint” I mean someone who has died and is now with God in Heaven. Furthermore, as a parish priest and one who has been privileged also to serve as a missionary, I am certain that I have known many living saints. They are not officially recognized by the Catholic Church and never will be, and they are not renowned. Yet their lives are powerful examples of selfless love and service, and their witness to the Gospel of Jesus is enduring.

One of the places where I most often hear about saints is walking with families at the time of the death of a loved one. Sometimes the family is ready to speak with us and tell us the story of their loved one’s life. So often these stories are, at the least, amazing. I recall, for example, shortly after I was ordained a priest, meeting a large family who had two elderly maiden aunts and one of them had died. I sat with the family in their simple home and as they gathered around, the stories came out. It seems these two sisters, who worked long hours at a local factory, made all of their nieces and nephews the center of their lives. Their generosity and love, poured out selflessly on each child during all of the various moments of their lives, left a huge imprint of love and goodness. I knew when I was celebrating that funeral Mass, I was praying for a woman who is doubtlessly a saint.

And now many years later, I realize that I am privileged to see and hear about saints everyday – here in Charlestown. They are parents of children, they are grown children of aged parents, they are spouses and aunts, uncles and relatives of folks in extraordinary need and they are amazing friends whose love is pure and selfless. The evidence of sainthood is all around us, yes in parish communities, in neighborhoods and agencies, in hospitals and schools and behind the doors of houses up and down the streets of our town. In my full experience, there is goodness, sacrifice, love and hope in all these places.

That which makes news in our world is much more often the bad rather than the good. I think that is not an accident! Satan is very happy spreading bad news about unhappy, sick and ruthless violent persons and not so content about telling of people whose lives are defined by their faith and their love of God and others. I have grown increasingly skeptical of the loud noise of the media, for my experiences do not concur with the negativity and prominence of selfishness portrayed. While I do not deny its existence, I know that those who strive for lives of faithfulness and love overwhelmingly exceed those who have lost their way. And I firmly believe that love is stronger than hate, and that the darkness will never extinguish the Light.

On Sunday, November 1, we celebrate ALL SAINTS DAY. This is the day that honors all the saints we know and those we do not know, who quietly live the challenges of their lives, one day at a time, with dignity, faithfulness and grace. It is the day that helps us recall the promise of our own destiny – sainthood. This is a destiny that might seem impossible on some of our days, but the saint realizes that “everything is possible with God”, and by the grace of God, even you and I can work towards fulfilling our destiny – sainthood!

Fr. Ronan

All Saints Day Weekend –
October 31/November 1, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his followers about “blessedness,” a word not used much in American culture.
The Beatitudes Jesus evokes in this Gospel reading are not promises of happiness, but promises of a new life with God; blessedness is key to a new way of living through the human experiences of
mourning, meekness, peacemaking, persecution, and poverty of spirit.
For Christian stewards, “blessedness” does not depend on wealth or health or status. Rather, Christian stewards recognize that blessedness is God’s gift. In the kingdom of God, life is not governed by honor and fame, but by the promise of abundant life. Embracing a poverty of spirit and meekness reveal God’s abundant life “breaking into” our world.
Reflect on the Beatitudes this week.
How might they help us improve our relationship with the Lord?

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.

    CHAPTER ONE –
    DARK CLOUDS OVER A CLOSED WORLD
  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 (www.thehotline.org) 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?

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