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.

Just the way I am

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As I was walking to my car, parked on a side street in a small town on Long Island, my nephew ran excitedly alongside me. When we arrived at the car, parked a block or so away from the apartment of my brother and sister-in-law, I asked my nephew, “Chris, do you want to drive?” This handsome child stopped in his tracks and looked at me seriously as he said, “I can’t drive, I am only five years old!” That scene took place a long time ago and I recall it fondly as a wonderful example of maturity. Maturity is nothing more than knowing who you are and accepting that truth.

It sounds so simple, yet for so many of us we are unsure about ourselves and often unaccepting of the person we believe we might be. What does it take to move us from doubt, uncertainty, and the insecurity of our own sense of self to a place of acceptance and peace? I am not sure if there is a magic formula but I am sure that the journey is a long and complicated one.

We are social beings. We define ourselves in relationships with others; how another speaks to us, sees us, cares for us, accepts us, and more are all fundamental in how we come to see our very selves. For example, there are numerous stories and studies of how a child performs in school to meet the expectation of the teacher. If a teacher, for whatever reason, has decided the child is slow and not too bright – too often the child’s performance is just that. The opposite applies equally. I recall having a slow start in college and in my sophomore year, turning in a sociology paper to my professor. Later, the professor called me to his office, held out the paper to me and said, “Ronan, you can do beer than this – here, do it.” I walked out of that office fuming . . . and then went and wrote a better paper.

Research is stunning about the low image teenagers have of their bodies. Both boys and girls in amazing numbers think they are not handsome or pretty. In fact, most people do not even have a clear sense of acceptance of their own body until they are in their 20’s. Whether it is one’s body, personality, aptitude or overall general appearance, how we get to a healthy place of self acceptance is a challenge.

For the Christian, however, there is another essential part of the journey. We celebrate that we are God’s creation, made in the image and likeness of God. Furthermore, we celebrate that God loves us unequivocally and constantly. Our relationship with Jesus as friend is for many of us a deep source of strength and a fundamental aspect of our maturity. By that I mean, as I recognize myself as a man, with all kinds of strengths and weakness, hopes and dreams, failures and embarrassments, I also know that I am loved by God.

The life and teaching of Jesus continually has taught that God’s love is neither dependent on my level of perfection nor impeded by my imperfections. God loves us because God is God and God is love. For young and old and everyone in between, maturity is saying “yes” to who and what I am and knowing that each of us is a work in progress. God is not yet finished with us – we are on that journey and maturity does not mean that our work is finished or we are perfected – it simply means accepting where I am today – and knowing that place is fine with God.

– Fr. Ronan

October 20 ~
Twenty-ninth Sunday Ordinary Time

“Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed. . . proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient”. Paul makes it very clear that the scriptures we hear are God’s inspired word for us. Therefore, when we pray with the Scriptures, we can be confident that God shows us where and with whom we are to “proclaim the word.”
So as the familiar hymn proclaims,
“Take the word of God with you as you go.
Take the seeds of God’s word and let them grow.


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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 the emphasis we place on our pets seems more
than our 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, it is not such 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 of 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 is estimated that 85% of domestic violence victims are women costing our country $5.8 billion each year. 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. 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 impacted 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, each life is to be respected, 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

HarborCOV 24-hour Hotline 617.884.9909 (Crisis Only)
P.O. Box 505754, Chelsea, MA 02150
Business Phone 617.884.9799

Twenty-eight Sunday
Ordinary Time
October 12/13, 2019

In today’s Gospel, we hear of the ten men afflicted with leprosy, and the one who glorifies God for being healed. It is a dramatic scene of gratitude. But in order for the miracle to happen in the first place, these men had to start walking in faith before their diseased conditions change one tiny bit. Good stewards of their faith realize that they cannot wait until their problems are over to start walking in faith. They praise God even in the darkest of nights, and in the worst of circumstances.
Do we walk in faith, offering the Lord our gratitude even when we are in difficult circumstances?

October is Respect Life month

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My Dear Friends in Christ:
Each October during Respect Life Month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launches a new cycle of the Respect Life Program – a year round, nationwide effort to help Catholics understand, value, and help cultivate respect for human life.

As Chairman of the USCCB Committee on ProLife Activities, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all you do to build a culture of life on a daily basis. Your efforts on behalf of the unborn, the dying, the elderly, the imprisoned, the poor, and so many others have a profound impact, both now and in the life to come.

This year’s theme, Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life, is particularly suited for the times in which we live. The attacks against human life seem to grow more numerous and callous by the day. Despite these challenges, we know that Christ has conquered sin and death once and for all. Through our Christian hope in the Resurrection, we are given the grace to persevere in faith. Our sacrifices on behalf of the Gospel of Life can contribute to the redemption of this current culture of death.

During the 2019-2020 Respect Life Program cycle, we also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the papal encyclical Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), written by St. John Paul II. The Church’s teaching on the value and inviolability of every human life remains an indispensable source of truth for all people. As Evangelium vitae highlights, “together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love” (EV6).

We bishops need your help. While there may be opportunities for decisive political action, we know that to build a true culture of life, we must seek to change hearts and minds. And your witness is essential.

It is the vocation of the laity to go out to be leaven in the world, a light in the darkness. Your daily activities take you to places I cannot go; they bring you to those I will never meet. May you allow Christ to renew and strengthen you, that He may work through you in each moment of every day. Be assured of my prayers for you and for our common efforts to bring about a world in which every life is cherished. And so together may we “hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm” (Heb 6:18- 19).

Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann
Archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas
Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Committee on Pro-Life Activities

October 6 ~ Twenty-seventh Sunday Ordinary Time

In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us of our responsibility as disciples saying, “Stir into a flame the gift of God that you have…”
When we feel that we do not have the courage to speak about Christ to others, Paul also reminds us that “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love…” When the disciples were worried about their mission they turned to Jesus and asked for an increase of faith.
How about us?
Will we take God’s word to heart and share it with courage?

An Age Old Question

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Almost 40 years ago, Rabbi Harold Kushner published a book with a captivating title: “When Bad Things Happen to Good People?” Everyone can relate to that question that has become part of common parlance. Rabbi Kushner wrote his reflection, almost as a meditation, after his young son was diagnosed with a fatal disease. Like millions of others, I read his book and it contains a wisdom and a compassion that has been a source of solace for many over these years. The question is, in fact, haunting and one that as a parish priest I have heard all too many times. Doubtless, you, too, have posed the question in one way or another.

It seems to me that one of the first responses many of us has when something bad happens is, “What did I do to deserve this?” Somehow, we want to connect our behavior with what happens to us; and often that is the case, but not always. In fact, the very nature of the question rather implies that bad things should happen to bad people and good things to good people. When we cannot find the “bad” we have done that seems to merit the suffering, many feel a sense of unfairness and anger toward someone, often God. Of course, we always want someone to blame for our suffering.

Yet, each of us knows that life is not fair and suffering is a part of life. Your mother suffered to give you birth; your father suffered to care for you and both parents suffered to raise you. The beginning of suffering is in the very nature of our broken human condition. A Christian traces this brokenness to The Garden and original sin. That original sin was placing human interest and will over God’s and ever since, we struggle with the consequences of that choice.

As I consider my own journey, now in its 74th year, it seems to me that we spend our entire life learning to let go. This begins when we have to let go of the safety and comfort of our mother’s womb and the “letting go” of our self-interest and selfishness continues from infancy into childhood through adulthood and finally arriving at our senior years. All along the way, we have to learn to “let go” and that is hard and often painful. The process means we live into the truth of our mortality; life is oh so brief and our destiny is not to be found here on earth.

For me this “letting go” about which I speak frees me to find and embrace what gives my life meaning and direction – a relationship with God. There is nothing more meaningful, more fulfilling and more capable to make whole my broken human condition. For this relationship brings me to Christ, the source of all that is Love. Living in a relationship with Christ leads me to others offering the hope and joy, the suffering and sorrow we know together. In the gift of these relationships of family, friendship and community, we find the authentic experience of love, learning to let go and to embrace – almost in practice for our final letting go and embrace.

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-sixth Sunday – Ordinary Time September 28/29, 2019

In today’s Gospel Jesus offers a warning about living selfishly in his parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Rich Man holds sumptuous feasts and dresses in fine clothes. But despite his affluence he does nothing to relieve the painful hunger and debilitating condition of his neighbor Lazarus.
He neglects to love his neighbor as he loves himself and is sent to hell for his lifestyle and desire for self-gratification.
The Rich Man represents those who spend their money on their own personal pleasures with no regard for sharing their material possessions with the poor and needy in their own neighborhood.
Good stewards realize the practical implications of not only loving God, but loving their neighbor as they would love themselves.
Who are the less fortunate in our neighborhood?
Do we share a portion of our own blessings with them?