Father Kris' Korner

Father Kris' Korner

Father Kris

Father Kris’ Korner

 August 5, 2018

During the month of August we will hear portions of Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse.  Homilies for these four weeks can prove to be very difficult since the Gospel readings sound nearly the same week after week.  So to keep our homilies from falling flat we highlight specific aspects of the Eucharist.  This week, my focus will be on the miracle of manna from the time of Moses.  Since the new translation came out a few years ago, the priest, during Eucharistic Prayer II, now says “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.” This is at the point when he extends his hands over the bread and wine to be consecrated into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But what does “like the dewfall” mean?  It’s not just sentimental poetry; it has a wealth of meaning and direct references to the Old Testament when God fed his starving people daily with manna that appeared each morning with the dewfall.  They had never seen anything like it before and from this manna they were able to make a kind of bread to sustain them.   Jesus makes reference to this miracle in the Lord’s Prayer when he said “Give us this day our daily bread.”  At each mass the Holy Spirit comes upon the bread and wine, gently and without drama or fanfare, performs the miracle of miracles that sustains us body and soul.  If you’ve ever experienced a dewfall in the silence of the morning, then you know it can be quite beautiful as creation glistens in the sunlight.  The dewfall inspires new hope, new beginnings, renewed trust, and a gentle washing away of the worries of yesterday.  So, if you listen carefully for these three words “like the dewfall” perhaps you’ll be flooded with this beautiful imagery and be drawn more fully into the mystery of the Eucharist.

July 29, 2018

In the kingdom of God, a little bit goes a long way.  In today’s Gospel, one boy was willing to share what he had for dinner - five barley loaves and two fish - and with the help of Jesus, five thousand men (plus woman and children) were fed!  What would have happened if the boy had not come forward?  Surely someone in the crowd must have had a morsel or two from their own dinner to share, yet none but the boy came forward.  Perhaps he had not yet learned selfishness or perhaps he had not yet been led to believe that what he had to offer wasn’t good enough.  You’ve heard the saying “Give him an inch and he’ll TAKE a mile,” well in the kingdom of God, it’s quite different… “Give God and inch and he’ll GIVE YOU a mile.”  Did you know that the Catholic Church feeds, clothes, shelters, educates and provides medical assistance to more people than any other organization in the world?  If you are interested, please google “USCCB Catholic Health Care and Social Services.”  The statistics of how the church provides aid around the world are astounding and something of which to be quite proud.  And all this is possible because of your willingness to share what you have with others – even if it’s just a few dollars per week.  God takes what we offer (insignificant as it may seem) and multiplies it so that real miracles happen.  St. Mary’s and St. Augustin’s continue to concentrate our efforts to serve the poor locally and globally.  We need your prayers and your help to do this.  In fact, we have something exciting that is just in the beginning phase – a dream of mine to provide basic medical assistance to Newport’s poorest of the poor.  Again, this is truly in its infancy, but with the grace of God may one day come to fruition.  Are you willing you share your time, talent and treasure; what is your equivalent of offering five loaves and two fish?  Remember, a little bit goes a long way!

 July 22, 2018

The world recently witnessed one of the most complex and dramatic rescues of our time.  We were all praying for the rescue of the 12 Thai soccer team children and their coach. However, many criticized their 25-year-old coach for his reckless leadership when he decided to lead the group into a dangerous, forbidden network of underground tunnels, known to flood at this time of year.  However, we must recognize that there is a difference between making an error and purposely ‘mis-leading’ others.  With so much worldwide division, we desperately need good and moral leadership; leaders who put the needs of others before their own self-interests.  I often become saddened by the state of current political leadership simply because no one can ever fill the role of Jesus Christ – the Good Shepherd.   Through our baptism we are called to join the Good Shepherd in guiding his flock; therefore, the responsibility to make good and moral decisions falls upon everyone’s shoulders; from leaders of governments and leaders of faith, to leaders of large corporations, down to local civic leaders, and further on down to you and me.  We need people who put the needs of others before their own self-interests.  Remember to thank God for those who serve selflessly on a daily basis: police, firefighters, our troops, medical professionals, teachers and the list goes on and on.  Also remember to pray for their protection and for the success of their ministries and to pray in thanksgiving for those who lost their lives while in service to others.  On a daily basis, how often do you put the needs of others before your own?  Be honest!  In our early development we are convinced that the world revolves around us but maturity has a way of reminding us that others come first.  Deep down, at our very best, we are capable of acts of unlimited and sacrificial love.  Deep down, there is a good and moral leader in all of us and Christ depends on you to shepherd those whom he has entrusted to your care. 

July 15, 2018

In today’s Gospel Jesus sends out his disciples and warns them that their message of love and inclusion will be rejected by some.  He told them “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
.”  Have you ever felt unwelcomed?  Some people maliciously go out of their way to make sure you know they don’t like you.  Thirty years ago I was at a multicultural celebration at the Cathedral in Providence.  There were beautiful native costumes and dances from various countries and cultures.  The mood was festive and exhilarating.  We all felt like we belonged to ONE CHURCH.  But the mood changed quickly when a brave African American woman got up to deliver the key note address.  She asked the congregation if anyone had ever been refused the Sign of Peace at Mass.  She recounted the many times that people recoiled their hand once they noticed she was black and the many times they just pretended they didn’t see her and would extend their hand to other people.  I was horrified to learn that people could be like that in God’s own home!  From the beginning of Christianity we have struggled to be a welcoming religion.  Today, we must increase the number of our flocks, not alienate, if we are to survive.  Those fleeing from war-torn countries or poverty, those of different ethnicity and religion are being told they are not welcomed.  Currently, we are seeing a very ugly side of our country; children being used as pawns - separated from their parents, cultures are clashing, racist violence is on the rise, and hatred, fear and suspicion are being cultivated from the top levels of our government; the secular world is battling the Kingdom of God.  Even families and neighbors are divided on the issues of immigration.  However, our Catholic beliefs are quite clear and perhaps even unpopular in some circles.  Three years before this current crisis, Pope Francis, in his Papal Message on July 14, 2014, warned “I would also like to draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence: This is a category of migrants from Central America and Mexico itself who cross the border with the United States under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain. They are increasing day by day. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”  Whether we encounter an immigrant, an abandoned child, or a new neighbor of a different color or religion, let us all be like Christ with outstretched arms as we sing “All are Welcome.”

July 8, 2018 

Have you ever met a know-it-all? Even though the person might be very knowledgeable, a know-it-all often has a condescending air about them and is convinced they are right about everything despite opposing evidence.  They are so self-assured that they can’t wait to get to heaven to show God how to run things because they know better.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus returns to his home town where his kinsmen and friends give him such a hard time that he is unable to perform any miracles there. They were so obstinate that they even mocked him while he was preaching!  You see, they thought they knew God’s ways; they had God all figured out. God was going to send a mighty savior who would descend from the clouds to annihilate their enemies.  The Son of God would never be the son of a carpenter.  They knew Jesus since he was a baby, his parents were Joseph and Mary, and so they were convinced that there was nothing special about him.  All the hype about Jesus possibly being the long awaited Messiah was sheer nonsense.  All the news of his miracles and his incredible fame in other lands was nothing more than a sham. 

Imagine being in the very presence of Jesus and missing out due to your own stubbornness?  What a loss for those people 2000 years ago!  And what a loss for people today who continue to be obstinate, who say having faith is a sign of weakness, who claim there is no God, but then blame God for their woes, who denounce Jesus as the Son of God, or who believe that Jesus was just a man and nothing more.  As Catholics who are constantly criticized for our faith; we must remain strong in our resolve to spread the Gospel.  When we meet people who ridicule us, we find consolation knowing that Jesus was also ridiculed.  When we meet people who call us old-fashioned, weak or brainwashed, when they condemn our church, take it in stride as did Jesus and simply carry on.

July 1, 2018 

In today’s Gospel, we witness two miracles of Jesus: the first miracle was the healing of a woman who interrupted Jesus while he was on the way to heal a dying twelve year-old girl. The Gospel writer Mark shares this dramatic story which is filled with urgency and which has a multitude of lessons. The scene begins when Jairus, the head of the synagogue, asks Jesus to heal his daughter who is dying. Jesus goes with him and many people accompany Him, pushing on all sides, all hoping to witness a miracle. However, along the way, Jesus stopped unexpectedly because he felt healing power flow from him and he wanted to know whom he had just healed. The woman was desperate; she had suffered for 12 years and she spent all she had on doctors but instead of becoming better, she only got worse and was alienated from her community because her hemorrhaging made her ‘unclean.’ She risked severe punishment for simply being near others, and instead of asking Jesus in front of the crowd she touched Jesus’ clothes anonymously as he passed by. Jesus quickly assessed the situation, and not only restored her health, he also restored her dignity and her place in the community. During this interruption, people arrived from the house of Jairus to inform him that his daughter had died and that it was no longer necessary to disturb Jesus. Poor Jairus, what was he feeling?  Was he growing impatient or even angry when Jesus stopped to talk to the women? Did he feel that his daughter was more important?  Was he close to losing faith in Jesus? Jesus assured Jairus, and said, “Do not be afraid, just have faith!” At Jairus’ house people were making a commotion weeping and wailing because the girl had died. Jesus said to them, “The child is not dead; but asleep.” The people laughed but Jesus does not pay attention to them and enters into the room where the child is.  He takes the child by the hand and says: “Talitha kum!” and she rises.  Two miracles – two happy endings; but as I stated, this story has a multitude of lessons and so I offer a few questions for thought: • Have you ever been close to giving up hope and what got you through it? • Have you been brave in making your prayer requests known to the church community or to God directly? • Have you ever ‘broken the rules’ for a greater cause? • Have you ever been mocked because of your faith? • Have you ever been impatient with God for not answering your prayers in a timely fashion? • Have you ever been close to losing your faith? • Do you trust God to find solutions to seemingly impossible difficulties? From Luke 1:37 “For with God, nothing is impossible.”

May 12, 2018

Saying the last good-bye is never easy. In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus praying to the Father for his disciples just before his crucifixion. He was entrusting his disciples into the Father’s loving care and protection. I have witnessed many adults telling a loved one who is near death that “It’s OK to go.” They assure them that their mission on earth is complete; that they have loved well, and that they are grateful for all the love they have received from them while on earth. And they assure them, in the hope of the resurrection, that they will be united with them once again in heaven. Those goodbyes are from the depth of a person’s soul, so genuine, so full of sorrow and hope. On March 14, 2016, I had to say my final goodbye to my sister Lynn; a goodbye for which I was completely unprepared. Lynn died unexpectedly one week after a routine heart operation. There were no last dramatic “I love you’s,” no hugging, no telling her that everything was going to be alright. In an instant she was gone and things were so hectic that I wasn’t able to be with my family in the hospital to just ‘be’ with her body. This might sound like it’s full of regrets, but it isn’t... my family members never depart from each other without saying or texting “I love you” and without a hug and kiss. You see, we don’t have to wait for life’s big goodbyes to tell our loved ones how much we love and appreciate them, to pray for them and to entrust them to God’s loving care; do it every day, every night, constantly tell them you love them and keep them constantly in your prayers! And wouldn’t it be an incredible gift to leave each of your loved ones a personal letter from you to be handed to them after you pass away? And so what if that isn’t your style… buy a Hallmark card then!! The letters and cards that I have saved from my deceased loved ones now have value beyond diamonds.

May 6, 2018

In today’s readings the theme is “Love one another.” The Apostles of the early church were faced with the decision of whether or not to baptize non-Jews.  They thought their mission was only to the Jews but when Gentiles started to ask to be baptized, this posed a great dilemma.  Do they let them join the church and, if so, are they allowed to keep their own customs, and will they be allowed to have leadership positions within the Church?  There was no mistaking God’s desire to gather all people into his loving care.  He gave the Gentiles the same Gifts of the Holy Spirit that he had given to the Jews: the gift to speak in different tongues, the gift to heal and dispel demons, etc.  God had made it perfectly clear that Christianity should be offered to every person, everywhere.  However, we never seem to learn our lesson; over the history of Christianity we have repeatedly made the decision of whom to “let in and whom to keep (or kick) out.”  We take to heart Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel to all ends of the earth, to every people of every nation.  As missionaries travel around the globe, new people, with different skin color, and language with new customs have changed our Church and will continue to change our Church; each time taking us out of our comfort zone until we settle in with a new reality.  The demographics of our local communities change and therefore our parishes change.  No matter who steps through the doors of our humble churches – black, white, yellow, rich, poor, gay, straight, old, young, non-Irish ;) and so on… may ALL feel loved and welcomed for God’s pure love does not discriminate.  And so my brothers and sisters, this is how we love one another.

April 29, 2018

Finally! Spring has sprung. New life is bursting forth from winter’s wrath. Perhaps you’ve already done some yard work this spring. I recently gathered dried up branches and twigs that broke off and fell to the ground during this harsh, windy winter and burned them in a fire pit. This was a real-life example of the bible passage “I am the vine you are the branches… Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither.” Jesus declared that he is the source of all life and if we cut ourselves off from him, we too, will eventually wither away or burn out spiritually, physically or emotionally. Sometimes people cut themselves off from Christ because they find “life” from other sources. Drugs, alcohol, addictions, affairs, get-rich-schemes, etc., claim they offer life but are nothing more than deceptions of evil that eventually suck the life out of their victims. I know far too many people whose lives have been ruined by these imitations of life.

There are other sources of life such as: friends, family, a special person, career, entertainment, sports, fame or fortune that all offer something good and can sustain someone for quite a while, but beware, for these can be taken away in an instant. In the long run, they all fall short of the abundant life that comes from Christ alone. What life-giving source(s) do you cling to?  Which might do you harm in the long run? And in great need, to whom or what would you cling for dear life? 

April 15, 2018

Have you ever had difficulty gaining another person’s trust...not because of anything you may have done, but that the other person may have had trust issues because of past hurt? Over the course of my priesthood and in my life in general, I have met many people who have been hurt by family, friends, acquaintances, and even total strangers. Someone attempted to con money from my elderly parents but luckily it did not happen, however, from that point on they never trusted anyone when it came to their savings or their house. No matter what advice my brothers and sisters gave them, they simply would not listen. Then in the last years of their life I became their legal Power of Attorney, I thought they would finally listen to me their “Priest Son.” Not a chance! I would get so frustrated but in the end all I could do is laugh and accept them just the way they were – Depression Babies and all.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, but they did not trust that it was really him; they convince themselves he was a ghost even though he showed them his hands and his feet and ate some baked fish (everyone knows that ghost don’t eat fish)! They eventually came to trust that it was really Jesus. Only once their trust was won was he able to teach them about all the scriptures that predicted he would have to suffer, die and rise again. And only then was he able to challenge them to be witnesses of this “good news” to all ends of the earth. Can you think of times in your life when had to gain (or regain) another person’s trust? Have you ever risked trusting someone else and it turned out for the better? When have you had to trust in God? What obstacles did you have to overcome for God to gain your complete trust? How might your own life experiences help someone else trust in God? Like Jesus, you too may have to reveal your own woundedness, for it is through our own vulnerability that God works best.

April 8, 2018

In today’s Gospel we encounter Doubting Thomas. Poor Thomas had one moment of doubt and he will be defined by this uncertainty for all time. Thomas had to see the risen Christ for himself; he wouldn’t trust the testimony of ten of his closest friends. If ten people that I loved and trusted all told me the same story, of course I would believe them… or would I? I’d WANT to believe them and perhaps I could even convince myself that I SHOULD believe them; but, honestly, until I experienced it for myself there would always be some unresolved doubt. Jesus Christ, in his love and infinite patience, was not at all insulted by Thomas’ doubts. In fact, without judgement, He invited Thomas to touch his wounds to help him believe. Thomas is a lot like today’s modern skeptics or perhaps like our own friends and family who need scientific proof for nearly everything and who believe that religion or spirituality is a sign of weakness. Miracles happen every day and there are those who believe in them and there are just as many who immediately discredit them or attempt to dismiss faith in general. Let us model ourselves after Christ and instead of being insulted and perturbed by another’s unbelief or antagonism, let us rather invite them to dialogue about faith and truth. Someone may come to believe in Christ because of your humble testimony and teaching. Our Easter lies with young children in attendance. Many of these children will one day question their faith, please be patient and trust that your own witness of God’s love may speak louder than any words you may speak. Keep up the good work by spreading the Good News! Assist someone in their unbelief.

April 1, 2018

While preparing for this week’s bulletin I was looking for a nice depiction of Easter to put on the front cover. So, I googled Easter images and the results caused a pit in my stomach – image after image of colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, furry bunnies, little yellow chicks. I suppose that Easter, according to popular secular views, does not equate to Christ’s Resurrection? If you don’t believe me try searching for yourself. THEN… try searching for “Easter Religious.” Then you will find what the true meaning is! But isn’t it sad that yet another important Christian holiday has been snatched right out from under us; and for some of us, we haven’t even noticed. On Easter morning children will be scurrying around looking for hidden Easter eggs, devouring the chocolate in their Easter baskets, and hoping to get a glimpse of the Easter Bunny. Sadly, for some, this is all they know of Easter; they haven’t been taken to Mass, and in their homes there is no mention of Jesus dying on the cross and certainly no mention of his resurrection. For many adults, the holiest day of the year is just like every other day. But on this blessed day, all time and eternity changed, all sins were forgiven, the gates of heaven were opened, and a completely new way of being was ushered into existence through Jesus Christ. Have you ever tried to delve into the fullness of what Easter is all about? Have you taken time to reflect on how the Paschal Mystery (Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection) affects you personally? It takes work to make sense of it and to make it part of our lives; for most, it takes a lifetime… a lifetime of faith. May this Easter change your life forever, for the Lord is risen!

March 25, 2018

In the course of the Palm Sunday Mass we change our mood from “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” to “Crucify him! Crucify him!” In just a matter of a few days the crowds turned completely against Jesus. At first they gave him a king’s welcome and later they publically condemned him as though he were a common criminal. Why are humans so fickle? Why do we withdraw our loyalty so quickly? It is far too easy to criticize the crowds of Jesus’ time. You may think that, if you were there, you would never have given into the crowd mentality; that somehow you would have been the only one to shout “Set Jesus free!”

Today, it seems to be socially acceptable to criticize or even condemn the Church, religion and faith in general. When you hear such conversations do you defend you faith, do you talk about your own relationship with God, and do you speak up about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us? Do you join bashing the church or do you just remain silent as Jesus is crucified over and over again. Be brave and stand firm in your faith. We need you to cry out!

March 18, 2018

Next week is Palm Sunday when we read about the sufferings that Jesus endured during the last few days of his life. We will all shout Crucify Him, Crucify Him as he is scourged and crucified! In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ anxiety is riding as his death approaches. He has conflicting feelings of wanting his sufferings to pass him by, yet he also wants to completely obey the will of the Father so that the Father will be glorified. His obedience did not protect him from great emotional suffering but it did keep him keenly focused on the mission he was called to fulfill. Each and every one of us has been called to fulfill our own personal mission while we journey in this life – that mission is to glorify God by knowing, loving, and serving God in this world. This is why, at the end of every mass, I choose to dismissal “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” Would others say that your life gives God glory? How do you purposely give God glory? If you have never thought about this, then please take this opportunity as our Lenten preparation for Easter is coming to an end.

March 11, 2018

At the St. Patrick’s Mass at St. Mary’s there is tremendous pride as the flags from the counties in Ireland are processed into the church. And with St. Patrick’s Day nearly upon us, those of Irish decent sign songs and drink to the memories of their counties and homeland. Irish folks ballads are songs and hymns that have been passed down from generation to generation. Many of these Irish ballads focus around happy themes such as love, friendship and camaraderie, but they also lament of famine, war, poverty, and hard work. These ballads help us to never forget what those who lived during those hard times endured – and shame on us if we ever forget!

In today’s first reading, the Israelites have been taken into captivity and they are completely heartbroken as they remember their beloved homeland. They cannot, and will not sing the songs of their heritage until they are reunited back home. It is natural for people to fondly remember the cherished places or endearing times in their lives. And it is also natural for us to lament over the sad and difficult times of our lives, especially as we remember our deceased loves ones. We promise – we vow – to never forget them. Since the deaths of my parents and sister and brother, I fear that I will never forget their faces and the sound of their voices as time passes on. So at family gatherings we purposely share stories – those same old stories – over and over again and no one ever complains.

The bible passage JOHN 3:16 reminds us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Jesus endured great suffering on the cross for our healing and forgiveness; let us never take this for granted and let us vow to never forget all that He has done for us!

March 4, 2018

Anger is a serious issue these days especially with all the stresses we face on a daily basis. Quick violent outburst often have long lasting effects. Have you ever lost your temper? In today’s gospel, Jesus flies into a rage when he sees that the temple area has become nothing more than a market place. Sellers were making a profit and perhaps even cheating people during transactions. “How dare they in my Father’s house!” Jesus’ love for his Father and his respect for the sacredness of the temple caused him to “flip out.” However, this was not a sinful action and we must never use Jesus’ actions in the temple to justify our own temper outbursts. Anger is a natural human emotion especially when we witness an injustice; it is actually our duty to get angry and fight for justice. However, other than in defense, we must be careful never to rationalize harming another physically or emotionally; we aren’t perfect – we aren’t Jesus. Are you in control of your anger? Do you make excuses when you inflict physical or verbal abuse? Do you blame it on alcohol or stress, or do you blame others for your own outbursts? During this season of Lent, let us focus on our own anger issues. How do you handle your anger? Do you have control of your tongue or fists? Do you seek forgiveness once you calm down? Lastly, when you have been angered by and injustice which then led you to do something positive; after all, that’s the real message of today’s Gospel.

February 25, 2018

Our first reading offers us horrifying story with a very happy ending; God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. God, of course, had no intention of allowing harm to come to Isaac. Abraham’s complete trust in God delighted God so much that He promised to give him descendants as countless as the stars. Little did Abraham know that God was going to allow His only Son Jesus to be sacrificed for the salvation of the world. You’ve heard the saying “Give someone and inch and he’ll take a mile;” however, when we give God an inch, he gives us a mile! God always outdoes us in kindness, compassion and love.

If you felt God was asking you to do something for him, how far would you go? I’m not suggesting anything insane… but something more like: make a commitment to volunteer somewhere, spend more quality time with those you love, finally get help with an addiction, give to charity, make a conscious effort to grow closer to God, be more generous with your time and talent, or perhaps commit your whole being to following the Lord’s will. What fears and insecurities hold you back from giving God your all? What we give to God, God will not be outdone; He will give back to us a hundred fold in his way and in his own time.

February 18, 2018

We are 4 days into the 40 day season of Lent. During this season we prepare our hearts and souls by looking inward in hopes of improving our character and changing our way of life through repentance. Today, in our first reading, we listen to the ending of the “Noah’s Ark” story; the ultimate story of the consequences of people refusing to repent of their sinfulness. For most adults, Noah’s Ark is nothing more than a kiddie story of animals entering happily into the ark two-by-two. Children all over the world act out the story with their toy animals. But don’t make the mistake of romanticizing this story; many people’s lives were lost in the flood because they did not heed God’s call to repent. For the record: God does not punish us for sinning. Jesus over turned this misconception 2000 years ago. When we dabble in sin, we invite the consequences of sin. Through sinful choices, evil wreaks havoc; loved ones are hurt and lives are ruined. God never wants this to happen but he also lets us make our own choices. However, God sends us every grace to resist sin and even helps us repair the harmful effects of sin. The Father sent his own Son to die for our sins so we wouldn’t have to face the consequences of eternal separation from him. So that old line, “The Devil made me DO IT” just may have some merit. However, through God’s love and mercy we can also claim, The Father helped me UNDO IT!"

February 11, 2018

A few weeks ago, I was called to a local nursing home to provide the Anointing of the Sick for an elderly gentleman who was near death. When I entered the room, a woman was in full precaution gear with rubber gloves and a mask. There was no sign on the door for precautions, so I simply asked her why she had them on. She answered that the man was highly contagious! I was so caught off guard that I ran out of the room as fast as I could. I quickly ran to get a mask but then decided against wearing the gloves. I did not want to anoint someone through rubber gloves although it is permissible. I thought in this instance, I must touch the man with my bare finger to anoint him with the holy oil. That dying gentleman deserved my fullest respect. In today’s gospel, we encounter a leper. Lepers had to shout out “Unclean” whenever they came close to other people so that no one would touch them, even accidentally. Jesus said to the unclean leper “Be made clean” and while saying this He reached out and touched him (knowing this was quite against the law). Jesus not only saw the man’s leprosy but recognized his human dignity. As Catholics, we believe that nothing is quite as healing as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Yes, you can ask for healing and forgiveness in your own private way, but in confession we hear the words of forgiveness from the priest who speaks for Christ. And as part of the sacrament, the priest raises his hand symbolically or places his hand on the head of the person during the prayer of absolution; this symbolizes Jesus’ healing touch of the leper. What sins in your life make you “unclean?” There is only one way to clean a soul – namely through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. The Church asks that each Catholic receives this Sacrament twice a year: before Christmas and before Easter. Please consider going to confession during this season of Lent and “Be made clean” in anticipation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

February 4, 2018

The biblical figure Job forces us to reflect on our understanding of why suffering is in the world. Why do some people suffer so much while others seem to evade it? There are no easy answers except that the church has always taught that suffering aids in the purification of souls and of the entire world. Jesus did not promise to protect us from suffering but only that he would tie himself to us and share in our burdens. Since he endured his own horrific sufferings he is able to be completely empathetic in our pain. He shouldered the entire sin-suffering of the world upon the cross. When inflicted with suffering, asking why never leads to answers and it never invites healing. As I watched both my parents die, I realized that long suffering was part of their lives; my father suffered with his mental illness and was in excruciating physical pain during his last years. My mother raised seven children, cared for an ill husband, carries two stillborns to full term, lived in near poverty conditions and then, at the end of her life, lived with mental anguish as her memories faded from her mind. Why didn’t God ever give either of them a break? Asking this question only leads to a dead end. We must look at those who suffer as heroes, especially those who faith gives them peace and hope where there could have not been nothing but despair. My comfort, OUR COMFORT is to know that those who suffer will eventually be freed and will be at peace for all eternity; a glorious eternity that awaits us all. We can be proud to know that our sufferings have helped, in some mysterious way, to make this world a holier place.

January 28, 2018

Many teachers in today’s school systems have the daunting task of keeping their students under control as basic respect is nearly nonexistent in classrooms these days. New teachers are amazed at some of the “old timers” who can walk into a room and with just their presence settle the students down. For some experienced teachers it is simply a skill that they learned; for others it is a result of years of nurturing and loving their students; thus, earning their respect. Jesus taught with this kind of authority and earned the respect and admiration of his followers. In his brilliance he knew the law – every letter of the law, but he taught and applied the law with mercy and compassion. The Scribes and Pharisees had long forgotten to be merciful and, in the process, became hardened and hypocritical. Think of someone whom you know to be hypocritical; what is it about them that turns you off? In every situation Jesus was authentic and practiced what he preached; people admired this and wanted to know more about this amazing man who had the ability to command evil spirits and restore people’s lives. Do you practice what you preach? Are you hypocritical in any way? Do you deal with others with mercy and compassion or are you quick to judge and even quicker to punish? Also, do you have the discipline to control sin and temptation in your own life or does sin have control over you? In a twelve-step program, participants are encouraged to depend on a higher power; as Catholics we believe this higher power is Jesus Christ. So, if you are a bit out of control then turn to Jesus and be amazed by all he can do for you!

January 21, 2018

The running of the Olympic torch is a time-honored tradition; it is passed from one person to another from its beginning location to its destination. When I became pastor of St. Mary’s, Fr. George was kind enough to have my name etched on a stone tablet along with the names of the previous twelve pastors. When I saw my name on the stone, it was then that I realized those pastors that came before me cared for the parish and then passed the torch on to the next successor. A year later, yet another torch was passed on to me when I became pastor of St. Augustin’s. so, not only am I now carrying two torches, I will also face unprecedented challenges with today’s growing disinterest in God; I can only pray that one day I will pass on two healthy parishes to the next pastor.

John the Baptist’s mission was to proclaim that the Kingdom of God was near and to warn everyone to repent from sin. After John was arrested and beheaded, Jesus picked up where John left off and continued to proclaim repentance from sin. John was a loner, but unlike him, Jesus gathered companions for his ministry. Even though he was the Lord of the Universe, Jesus needed the support of family and close friends. What companions have you made along your life journey? Who are the people who have supported and encouraged you? Jesus also knew that it was essential to pass on His Ministry to others. What person(s) have inspired you throughout your life? What torches (ministries, causes or callings) have been passed on to you?

January 14, 2018

One of our beloved modern day hymns is “Here I am Lord.” In fact, whenever it is played, people sing it with gusto. But have you ever stopped to think about what we are singing? Have you ever sung it like you were singing it to the Lord personally? Life has a way of asking for volunteers and so does God. Missionaries, doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, scientists and soldiers travel to all ends of the world whenever the need arises; some consciously spread the love of God with words while others choose to do it through their actions. There are others who never have to leave their own back yard to serve the Lord faithfully.

Parishioners of St. Augustin’s and St. Mary’s tell me that no one ever said no to Sr. Joseph or Fr. George when they asked you to do something. I don’t seem to have that gift; people look me right in the eye and say NO! However, some people will say yes for a specific task and then find themselves becoming involved in other ways; my own family is an example of this. We had a parish festival with carnival games and they were looking for families to run them. At age twelve, I proudly volunteered my family for the skee ball booth simply because I loved to play that game. My mother was ready to kill me for volunteering us. This is a photo that skee ball game that I built for my parish. After that first time, we continued to volunteer every year for the festival and then we slowly got involved in the larger life of our parish community.

Some people say yes only when they are asked, while some people come forward all on their own; I am an example of this. In our parish bulletin, they were looking for a guitar player for the folk group because someone had suddenly dropped out. Without owning or knowing how to play a guitar, I volunteered! I purchased a guitar, took one lesson, and within three weeks I was playing at Mass. I often think how awful it must have sounded – at age 17-year-old I couldn’t read music, I played everything at the same fast speed and I only knew three chords. The parishioners were appreciative and supportive, and they truly inspired me to serve the Lord with gladness. Here is a photo of me at age nineteen singing for my parish’s Woman’s Society.

In today’s gospel reading Jesus calls his first disciples. None of them could have imagined what they were getting themselves into, however they were wise enough to say “Yes!” When have you said yes to the Lord? Perhaps nothing major is popping into into your head, but think long and hard, over the course of your life you must have said it in thousands of smalls ways and these small ways have shaped the course of your life. Please take some time to think this over so as to become aware of your own growth as a disciple of Christ. Then perhaps when the Lord asks you for something major, you might say, “Yes, Here I am Lord!”

 

January 7, 2018

Epiphany celebrates the journey of the Three Wise Men bearing gifts for a king. This Christmas season is coming to an official end; gifts that didn’t fit have been returned, gifts we didn’t like get stuffed in a closet to be re-gifted next year, and the gifts we loved will be cherished. The Wise Men expected to find a king adorned in splendor and majesty; never in their wildest dreams did they expect to find a baby born of poor parents, lying in a manger, warmed by the breath of animals. To honor the child King, they gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. At first glance, these may seem to be gifts fit for any king, however, for Jesus they were perfectly prophetic. The hymn, “We three Kings” reminds us of the meaning of each of their gifts…Gold was a symbol of Christ’s royal kingship on earth and in heaven, RRANKINCENSE (an incense used in worship) was a symbol of Jesus’ priesthood, and MYRRH (used as an embalming oil) was a foreshowing of His death. Following the example of the Three Wise Men we are reminded that each of us is expected to give a gift to the Christ Child who came for all people – the poor, the rich, the wise and the uneducated. What gift will you offer Christ this year? The only gift he truly wants is your love.

 

December 31, 2017

Merry Christmas to all. Today we focus on the Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Through blessings, wonders and even sufferings the Holy Family remained deeply rooted in their trust in God. Just imagine how beautifully the family showed their love for each other. However, not everything was easy for them; for years they went into hiding because Herod was trying to find the baby Jesus to murder him, and at some point, Mary became a widow after the death of her bellowed husband Joseph. I love to imagine Mary sharing memories about Jesus’ early life with the Apostles. As this year come to an end, may we all look back on what has happened in our own family’s lives. For some, 2017 might have a been a wonderful year; for others it m might have been a tough year with financial setbacks, illness or even loss of a loved one. People often thank me for sharing my stories about my own family I share my family’s sorrow and celebrations with honesty and vulnerability so that others may feel they are not alone in their own family struggles. For the Von Maluski’s, 2017 has been a year of healing after such incredible losses and we are doing our best to regain our strength. While we may still burst into tears when something reminds us of a love one, it has also been a year of many blessings. We intentionally choose to focus on hope rather than despair; to be victorious rather than defeated. As we say good-bye to 2017 please learn from the Holy Family and my humble family to rely on God, to count your blessings and carry them forward into the New Year. God bless!

 

December 24, 2017

Our fourth candle of the Advent Wreath is lighted for only a few hours before the arrival of Christmas Eve on Sunday evening! Church decorations have burst forth in celebration. On Saturday evening and Sunday morning we finally hear that the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary she would conceive and bear a son to be named Jesus. It was prophesied that the Savior was to be born from the lineage of King David; a prophesy that took over 1000 years to be fulfilled! Have you ever been interested in your own ancestry? With companies like ancestry.com and now DNA testing, many have become fascinated with their family trees. I recently did some investigating and couldn’t get very far with my mom or dad’s ancestors but it was still interesting. Perhaps knowing where and from whom we come gives us a sense of belonging and deep rootedness. My maternal grandparents were from Nothern Italy and someday I hope to trace my roots by hiking the very same mountain that my grandfather climbed over when courting my grandmother. We love to hear stories of our ancestors’ brave journeys that brought them to the USA. Mary and Joseph traveled bravely to Bethlehem while Mary was far along in her pregnancy. And we are in awe of their courage when accepting the challenge to give birth to and to raise the SON OF GOD! Many people who are adopted long to discover their biological roots while still cherishing their adopted roots. We are all adopted children of Mary and Joseph – all brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. During this season, may God bless you and all your loved ones including your ancestors who are still with us in spirit, and may the Christmas story remind all Christians of our common roots which began on that blessed night when Christ was born; when the Light of the World broke forth in the darkness.

December 17, 2017

On Gaudete Sunday we enter the third week of Advent, the three candles on our Advent wreath are now lighted and we’ve added a touch of pink around the altar to remind us that we are nearly there; yet so far there has been no mention of the baby Jesus. Instead, our focus is mainly on John the Baptist who tells us to prepare for the coming of someone might. Advent is the season of anticipation; anticipating the two comings of Christ – the coming of the baby Jesus – Emmanuel which means “god is with us,” as well as the second coming of Christ the King of the Universe. For thousands of years, the Israelites awaited the Savior; the one who would bring glad tidings to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners. We get restless when we start counting down just 24 days but imagine if we had to count down 730,000 days (that’s 2000 years x 365 day a year) ‘till Christmas! Would you lose heart and eventually forget about it? Or could you stay focused your entire life based on just a promise? Today we are just 7 days away. Don’t let December 25th catch you off guard and find you spiritually unprepared! On Monday, December 18th we will be having a Reconciliation service for both St. Augustin’s and St. Mary’s. Please consider coming to receive the graces of the sacrament so that you can be prepared to receive the Christ Child. May Christ find a dwelling place of faith in your heart.

 

Dec 10, 2017

In today’s readings the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist urge us to “Prepare the way of the LORD.” How are you preparing for the Lord during this Advent season? Since ancient times people have prepared the inside and outside of their homes with lights and decorations. But do you know the history of these traditions? The practice of lighting the fireplace comes from the Norse tradition of the Yule log. The Yule log is a sentimental custom that links Christmases past, present and future. A log saved from last year’s fire is burned in their year’s fire and this is repeated year after year. The log reminds us of those who were with us last year but are no longer with us now. In Christianity, the Yule log came to represent Jesus as Light in the darkness. Candles in our windows are symbols which welcome Mary and Joseph after their long journey to Bethlehem. Many cultures have decorated evergreens and trees; they symbolize eternal life because they do not drop their leaves in the winter, so it makes sense that Christians adopted evergreens as a sign of Jesus’ promise of eternal life. The star on the top of our Christmas tree represents the star that guided the Wise Men. Even today’s modern Santa Claus has his roots in Saint Nicholas from the 4th century who was very wealthy and extremely generous. Obeying Jesus’ words to “see what you own and give the money to the,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. Remove the “o” from Nicholas and you get “Stain Nichlas.” However, ‘chias’ sounds like “claus”…so, over the years…Saint-Ni-claus became Sant-a-Claus! Our homes have Nativity creches of all kinds from all regions of the world. On Christmas Eve in the year 1223, St. Francis of Assisi staged the first nativity scene in a cave in Italy. It is said that St. Francis was inspired to recreate the nativity scene because he was disgusted with the greed and materialism that was rampant in Italy at that time. He felt that people had forgotten that Jesus came to us not as a rich king but as a poor child. Hopefully, all this will help you appreciate the deeper meaning of our traditions and decorations, and as you prepare your homes, remember to prepare your hearts.

 

December 3, 2017

Happy Church New Year everyone and may you have a blessed Advent Season! On the first day of the Liturgical year you may notice some changes at church; we have new missalettes and songbooks and the color purple adorns our altar. The candles of our Advent Wreath will help us count down the next 22 days. Our homes will be decorated beautifully; candles in your windows will let your neighbors know that your household awaits the coming the Christ child. All this reminds us that we are in a season of great expectation; the arrival of Jesus Christ our Savior. We love the wholesome image of children awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus; dozing out in front of the fireplace with the milk and cookies in place, or in their beds gazing out the window to see Santa’s sleigh. There is such innocence in their anticipation and oh, how I wish that we adults could anxiously await the arrival of the Christ Child with as much enthusiasm as children waiting for Santa. This season especially, may you prepare well for the glory of Christmas!