From our Pastor

Latest notes from Fr. Sheridan


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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?


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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

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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

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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

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

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?

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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?

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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

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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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I wrote this column several years ago while on retreat. It seems to me to be a helpful reminder of how we all may wish to enter into this holy and waiting season: preparing to receive The Light of the world this Christmas.

A moment ago I looked and they were not there. The male arrived first and after a few moments, the smaller female arrived. The wind was so strong off the ocean that I wondered if they had landed to take shelter from them and find a safe place for the evening. Canadian Geese – evidently on their way south and needing a stopping -off place. They found one in front of my window on Eastern Point, along the rugged Atlantic coastline on Cape Ann in Gloucester, in the middle of my eight day silent retreat at this beautifully simple Jesuit retreat house. There, I was noticing the signs of the majesty and beauty of God all around me.

And now she set about munching on the still green grass; he kept vigil nearby in full alert status, looking to his left and right and changing position to always have a clear view of all angles from where his mate was feeding. “Astonishing, amazing”, I thought watching these beautiful birds display their stateliness outside my window. Just one more expression of God’s creation, the mysteries of which are so very evident, when one stops, is silent, listens and looks about.

All priests in the Archdiocese are expected to make an annual retreat someplace, and for more than twenty years I have made the drive to Gloucester for mine – to this place which has become home for me. St. Ignatius of Loyola is the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Ignatius also founded a spirituality; a way of approaching prayer, meditation and discernment of God’s Spirit. The teachings of Ignatius have been preserved and studied by Jesuits and others for more than 500 years. And today, they have been made available to millions of laypeople, religious and clergy outside the Jesuit family.

For me the annual retreat is as essential as breathing. A parish priest is expected to preach and teach about God, prayer and the spiritual life. It stands to reason that we cannot give what we do not have. That is to say, our own relationship with God must be deepened, renewed, refreshed and invigorated regularly if we are to be a continued resource of spirituality for our people. And so, in addition to my ongoing prayer life, several hours of prayer each day for eight days each year in the silence and beauty of Eastern Point works for me.

I’m wondering how to summarize the fruits of these days for you; don’t know if I can. But a few thoughts: God’s wish to draw each of us closer in love and mercy seems more evident than ever. Yet there are so many obstacles for each of us to experience this closeness! We hunger for peace and serenity as well as joy in our daily life, yet don’t always know how to find it. We are tired all too often and greet one another with explanations of how busy we have been and are. We are productive, successful, efficient and well off – yet often spiritually impoverished.

There is no solution to this conundrum other than a conscious choice to make room for God in our life. Attending Sunday Eucharist, engaging in some daily moments of prayer and quiet, allowing yourself to savor the beauty of God’s creation and the many gifts you have received will nourish and strengthen your life in unimaginable ways.

Fr. Ronan

Second Sunday of Advent December 7/8, 2019

In today’s Gospel reading John the Baptist warns his listeners: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” The Church’s yearly Advent herald is a call to repentance. The season of Advent urges us to be open to a conversion of heart. Christian stewards heed this call daily, and take the need for conversion in their lives seriously.
As a family of faith, do we hear this call to conversion amidst the massive holiday spending? The increase in credit card debt? The urge to buy things that are not necessary? The incivility on the roadways during the holidays? Are there patterns in our own lives that need to be converted?

Advent – A Time of Waiting

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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 is a time of waiting, but not 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.

These can be the days to wonder about our own freedom and the areas of shadow and darkness within ourselves. And in the midst of the waiting, remembering that Christ seeks us out, always ready to bring light into our darkness. And so we can invite him into our shadows.

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

Waiting in the Advent time can be like going to the gym to exercise; we grow in strength and stamina in a good way. Yet this kind of waiting is best when complemented 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.

This season often provides many opportunities to reach out to those in need in whatever way we feel God is calling us to do. 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 in a flight or something, 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 … ahh not just an ordinary inconvenience, but rather a special time that contains immeasurable Grace for those who would choose to wait with the Church and to engage in quiet, prayer, reflection, personal growth, and charity. If, like the poor, we allow this waiting to help us grow in greater solidarity with one another, and, if we embrace these opportunities with joyful anticipation of the gift of a greater unity with Christ, the fruits that will be harvested in our lives and the difference this can make in our world will make this Advent a true time of miraculous Grace.

Fr. Ronan

December 1 ~ First Sunday of Advent

The message is clear on this first Sunday of Advent:
“Walk in the light of the Lord”;
“Stay awake…”;
“You must be prepared…”;
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Church gives us this holy season as a time for us to re-order our lives and our priorities.
While our culture will try to distract us from the importance of Christ’s birth, take a few minutes each day in prayer to extend a personal invitation to Jesus to come into your life.
Your prayer will produce gratitude and your gratitude will foster hope in the Lord

Asking The Why?

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Years ago I heard a saying and it has always stayed with me: “I gave bread to the hungry and people called me a saint. I asked why people were hungry and people called me a communist”.

Of course, there is a story behind the saying. As the Church works to respond to the needs of the poor, she has consistently developed programs and services to meet the identified needs. Sometimes these are soup kitchens and food pantries, there are neighborhood medical dispensaries and hospitals as well as all types of educational initiatives and programs such as orphanages and safe houses for folks in need. The list is long as the needs are many.

Most of the time, Christians see this work as appropriate and flowing from their life as faithful believers. Yet when the Church actually asks the question “WHY” there are so many people who are suffering and in need and “WHY” policies, government practices, financial systems, and more are not helping and maybe contributing to the problems, some of the faithful are uncomfortable. Sometimes we have heard that the Church should stay out of politics – not take positions about matters such as immigration, fair wages, international aid, global poverty, arms control, and so much more. And so it is, many are comfortable giving bread to a hungry person and not pleased with asking what is wrong that there are so many hungry people.

The work of the Church is now and has always been deeply involved at all levels of human life. It simply is not possible to separate our belief in a loving God and our responsibility to our neighbor. At one of the annual Archdiocesan Justice Convocations, the keynote address given by Fr. Bryan Hehir, a good friend who is a nationally recognized scholar in the area of Faith and Government, outlined that the two pillars of our Catholic Faith are Spirituality and Social Justice. He taught that the life of spirituality reaches its fullest expression in the work of social justice. Father Hehir summed up this area saying, “The work of the Church is healing the world”.

All of us realize this world needs a lot of healing. Our lives of faith not only offers us the healing and hope each of us deeply needs, but also equips us to ad dress other issues that cry out for attention. The work of the Church in social justice is broad and the areas of concern are many. The following is a list of some of the more compelling areas: budget – federal and state; children and child care, addiction, criminal justice; death penalty; domestic abuse; health care; housing/homelessness; human rights; hunger; human trafficking and environmental justice. This is by no means an exhaustive list. A number of these issues were addressed a few years ago during the visit of Pope Francis to our country.

As we move into the winter months and the holiday season, let us remember that as Catholic Christians we have a duty to respond to the real needs of our neighbors, near and far. Furthermore, we have an obligation to ask “Why” to the suffering of so many in our neighborhoods and across the globe.

Fr. Ronan

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time November 16/17, 2019

In today’s Gospel Jesus suggests that his disciples must be prepared to suffer ridicule, persecution and perhaps even death if they are to follow Him.
Sometimes we may wonder if enduring ridicule and scorn are what we really signed up for when we received the sacraments of initiation.
Would we not rather sneak through life as painlessly as possible?
Good stewards take their faith seriously and find comfort in the closing words of today’s Gospel: “You will be hated by all because of my name but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Let us make it part of our daily prayer routine to ask the Holy Spirit for the courage to act in Jesus’ name no matter the consequences.