When They Come Marching In . . .

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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?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fr. Ronan

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

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

Prayer as Relationship

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Many of us remember the oldest and best definition of prayer: ʺraising the mind and heart to God.ʺ I suspect that most of us practiced the first part, raising our mind to God, beer than the second part, lifting up our hearts. That imbalance can too often make the experience of praying ʺdryʺ or ʺunfulfilling.ʺ

What this definition probably intended to say was that prayer involves our whole person in a relationship with God. Using the various relationships of our lives as a guide, we can come to new insights about prayer.

A wise spiritual guide once said, ʺWe are as good at praying as we are at the other relationships of our lives. If you want to get better at prayer, work on the key relationships in your life.ʺ

Take a close friendship or marriage, as an example. We wouldnʹt imagine
that what makes the relationship work is trying to find a half an hour, early in the morning, to sit in a chair and close our eyes and think heavy thoughts about the other person. We know instinctively, even if we hadnʹt ever put it into words, that a key relationship in our life is a matter of the heart. The other person means a lot to me. Iʹm not just attracted to the other, but the other is someone whose desires and dreams and vision are very important to me. And, if this relationship is one that is growing in love, the other is one I want to serve – give of myself for.

Relationship always involves a strong desire to be with. A relationship
will fade if we have no continuing interest in spending time with the other, or connect with the other. Even when our time together might be limited, we have feelings for the other which sustain the relationship. The closer the relationship, the stronger those feelings. In a marriage relationship, I might not see my spouse as much as Iʹd like, but I know that my job or my care for our children or time shopping – whatever I do when we are apart – is all done because of our relationship, to further the goals of our life together and our mission together. Intimacy in the bedroom is an important, but small part of the relationshipʹs bond. If the other intimacy and connections are there, then the bedroom time is wondrous. If the relationship of the heart is not connecting us when we are apart, intimacy in the bedroom can become quite problematic.

Words, gestures and rituals express and give shape to the relationship of
the heart. ʺI love you.ʺ ʺThank you.ʺ ʺYou are wonderful.ʺ ʺI need you.ʺ ʺIʹm
sorry.ʺ A smile, an embrace, a gesture of vulnerability, a self-revealing story, a gift full of meaning, doing something together. Our song, our favorite place, a special reading, a special menu, a tradition weʹve developed. These are just a few examples of the hundreds of ways a relationship develops and grows.

How could prayer be a relationship with God, if it only remains a lifting of
our minds to God? We need very special times of intimacy with God, but that time needs to be prepared for and built up to. To enrich our relationship with God, engages our hearts. That involves finding intimacy with God in the midst of our everyday busy lives, much like we do with the other important relationships of our lives. Perhaps as we pay more attention to what gives life and intimacy to these relationships, we might grow in the affective side of our relationship with God.

If this tip stirs a desire for that kind of relationship with God, one place to
begin is to let God tell me about how much God loves me. The God who says,
ʺYou are precious in my eyes and I love you.ʺ [ Isaiah 43:4] If Iʹm open to Godʹs expressions of affection toward me, that can open my heart to stir up affection in the form of grateful response. Love needs only a spark to get started. It takes ongoing care to keep the fire from going out. With special care, it can become a long lasting, warm and comforting, life-long relationship.

Source of article: http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/online.html

Twentieth Sunday Ordinary Time
August 16, 2020

In today’s first reading, the Lord speaks through the prophet Isaiah during a
time of political upheaval and moral decline. The prophet had warned of God’s judgment against people for the feelings of self-importance they found in their possessions, and condemned them for various forms of economic injustice such as exploiting the poor and immigrants.
Good stewards know that Isaiah’s message is as compelling today as it was in the time of the kingdom of Judah:
Do the right thing.
Offer justice and compassion toward others.
Be honest in all your dealings.
And remember to observe the day of the Lord.


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On summer nights, family, friends, and neighbors would all be outside siing around on porches while the kids played and ran around. The evenings moved toward darkness too quickly and my Mother would call me over telling me, as the youngest in the family, it was time for bed. That meant going into the big, empty, old dark house, climbing the stairs and finding my way along to our rooms. It was very dark and I was scared. “Are you afraid to go in by yourself?” I was asked. I couldn’t say yes for that meant an older brother or sister would be called to take me up to bed … unthinkable!

Everyone, at some point in life, is scared of the dark, literally or metaphorically. The dark means the unknown; what is ahead is unclear; one has no plan, no control. Fear grips easily and we can become paralyzed by it. To a greater or lesser degree, we all know what this experience is like. The fear, which is in the family of anxiety, could be for oneself or for others; it could be remote or proximate; it could be reasonable or not. Yet, in all cases, it is very real.

As I write these thoughts, our world is growing increasingly anxious about the corona virus (COVID-19). Every day the news amazes as we learn of the implications of the growth in the number of those infected. The situation in Italy seems dire and the city of Rome cancelled all Masses for the weeks ahead. Concerts, sports events, and assemblies of all kinds are being analyzed for safety concerns. No one knows where this is going and how it will all play out.

“Are you afraid?” I heard someone ask a friend down at the CVS yesterday. “Terrified” came the instant response. I glanced at the person and, indeed, I saw a person who looked terrified. Fear can be crippling. It can close us in on ourselves and cause us to look suspiciously at everything around us. Of course, on the one hand, fear is a very natural and healthy response, a defense against threats, needed to prepare us to respond in a way that protects and often saves us.

But there is another response to fear: to approach our realities in faith. Our faith brings us to another place, outside of ourselves. Faith embraces our relationship with God, listens to our story with God, recalls times past of God’s faithful support and mercy. Our faith can draw us to see, sense, and become aware of the larger reality. It can free us into relationships easily overlooked and bypassed through fear. Our faith can lead us to trust.

Though I’ve never counted myself, it is said that the phrase “fear not, or similarly, “do not be afraid”, is written in the Bible 365 times – one for each day. Jesus, himself, responding to the frightened father of a dying child said, “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust” (Mt. 5:36).

The crises of our time, of this moment in time, are undeniable. All reasonable precautions and care are called for, of course. At the same time, if we so choose, this is also a moment that invites us to embrace our faith in the goodness and omnipotence of God. A faith that opens us to the intimacy and care of Jesus. A faith that comforts and guides us as we lean into the genuine trust our faith offers.

My Mom whispered to me, “Don’t be afraid Jim, you will be fine — go to bed”. I went into the dark house, up the stairs, and to bed. I trusted my Mom, and she was right. Trust God.

Fr. Ronan

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ― Plato

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Rooseveltʹs First Inaugural Address

March 15 ~ Third Sunday of Lent

We meet the Samaritan woman in today’s Gospel. Her conversation with Jesus put her on the ‘fast track’ to self-searching and repentance.
Her conversation with Jesus transformed her into a great evangelizer: “Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me everything I have done.’ʺ This week consider how your prayer, fasting or almsgiving is transforming your life. Share what God has done for you with someone.

Listening . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fr. Ronan

February 9 ~ Fifth Sunday – Ordinary Time

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

What Makes You Happy?

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Kind of an interesting question, don’t you think? I wonder if each of us would answer in different ways. Would the answer of a child be different than that of a teenager or an adult? How about the response of an 80 year old person – would it be very different than that of a 30 something? I wonder how my answer to this question has changed over the years. I mean there was a time when my graduate education and career was uppermost in my mind. Another chapter when my social life had high priority.

Is the “happiness” thing a sliding scale, changing from day to day or week to week? I ask the question because these past weeks the readings at Mass have provoked me to wonder why I am happy and what causes my happiness. For example, the reflections around the feast of St. Paul (January 25) suggest that after Paul’s conversion, his whole life became one of service to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That his own will was so impacted by love of Christ that it became configured to Christ’s will. This harmony of wills, fueled by love, explained Paul’s amazing and ever present Joy, even in the midst of suffering of all kinds. Paul would go on to write that his life included times of wealth and of poverty, times of hunger and of abundance, times of success and of failure, and he had come to regard everything as having little value other than his relationship with Christ.

Perhaps it is, therefore, that the only common denominator in life that brings happiness to any person at any stage, is the presence of love. Not a love that is totally self serving, rather a mature love that is more other-centered. Again, Paul wrote elegantly of this as well; “if I achieve everything that this world has to offer without love, I gain nothing.” He concludes his marvelous treatise on love as follows: “When I was a child I used to talk like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways aside … There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13).

Each day of our lives there is something in front of us that promises happiness; more often than not it includes everything from a laxative to a Cadillac. Sure, there is stuff that can be pleasing and meet needs and desires. But true happiness, well, that is something more. Yet, the whole world is searching for happiness – frenetically it seems. And St. Paul found the answer in Christ who offers Himself to us every day.

Fr. Ronan

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

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


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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

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Collaborative

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?