Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

This year we enter into the Great and Holy Lent on Valentine’s Day. The last time this happened was in 1945. This presents us with a whole bunch of dilemmas. Can I celebrate Valentine’s Day? Which celebration is the greater obligation? Do I have to fast and abstain from meat? The underlying question is: Does God’s love motivate us? Paul, in speaking to the Corinthians, recounts the great promises God has given us in Jesus. Among the great promises: That God will walk among us and live with us (He is not in a long distance relationship). That we are God’s people; He receives us in His fatherly love. We are His sons and daughters; co-heirs with Jesus to the resurrection and eternal life in heaven. That we have communion with Him, His protection and blessings that are absolute and unconditional. Does God’s love motivate us? Yes, if we work to improve externally and internally; to live in purity of heart and to train to avoid all sin – the killer of love. Lent is the time to discipline ourselves and cleanse ourselves so that we live up to the love we have received from God. That is what Lent is about – living up to the love and promises we own. Lent is an opportunity to live up to love – to cleanse ourselves, achieve deep-seated changes in our lives, and align ourselves with God’s love. It is a happy coincidence that Valentine’s Day marks the start of Lent because Lent is about the change real and honest love brings, the good love motivates, and the happiness and holiness love attains.

Join us in the run up to and for the start of the Lenten season. So much going on. Souper Bowl Sunday, Annual Meeting, Ash Wednesday, our Valentine’s Raffle, our Seniorate Lenten retreat. Join us – become part of a family of faith and shine forth – bringing more and more to real freedom in Jesus. We so look forward to meeting you, to working together, to being love to our world.

You may view and download a copy of our February 2018 Newsletter right here.

Will we live
big?

Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd playing Jake and Elwood Blues had just been released from prison. They went back to visit the orphanage in which they were raised. They find out that creditors are about to foreclose on the orphanage. Suddenly, the understood the big thing they had to do. They were going to pay off the debt. Their oft repeated statement of purpose was: “We’re on a mission from God.”

Paul was certainly on a mission from God. Yet, he says something very odd – especially on point for us in this day and age – give no offense. Many people tend to think (by our failure to live like Jesus) that giving offense is what the Church is all about!

Paul was focusing on the difference between insignificant matters, small ‘t’ traditions and practices and the essentials of faith. Don’t quibble, don’t focus on the small things, don’t create offense for anyone over small things. Rather, come together in unity on the big things, the essentials. In doing that, show off Jesus. Set an example of humility. Shine forth like Jesus – be like Him. Open the door to all in need of the big healing, big peace, big confidence, and big security only Jesus can give.

Think of what Jesus taught about the things that are key. Two things only. Two commandments. Love God, love each other. Any minor issues there, anything insignificant? Not at all.

Paul’s experience helped him to really understand what Jesus taught. Paul often focused on the greatness of the mercy that was shown to him. Paul saw and experienced, in a flash of blinding light, what Jesus focused on. It was never the small. Paul had been focused, in his pharisaical ways, on minutia. It his encounter with Jesus, Paul saw where he fell short in understanding. He finally got God’s big mercy. What counts is that God wipes out our small and the big mess of sins – our failure to love God and to share in that love as an act of love – so we can start anew.

If barriers are raised to our neighbors, by arrogance, being bound to the small and insignificant, then the path to Jesus’ big mercy is blocked.

As we begin our Pre-Lenten preparation, let us consider how we may remove any block on the way to Jesus. Are we opening the path to mercy? How will we live? What mission from God are we on? Who will we be imitators of?

Jesus healed the leper, and he couldn’t stand not to tell of the big mercy he received. …he went out and began to talk freely about [Jesus] and the people came to Him from every quarter.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Arise and shine, I can just hear my mom saying those words as I covered my head with the blankets. Never all that happy to get up in the morning, here I am in 2018 as a priest of our Holy Church, leading a wonderful family of faith in our worship of God through His Son, Jesus. Of course that means I have to get up early. It’s worth it! The prophet Isaiah, using the words above, was speaking to the dejected people of Israel. They were in captivity in Babylon, with covers over their heads. He tells them to get up, to wipe the sleep from their eyes, to shine because an amazing thing was happening. They were being saved, recalled from exile. They were being called home. This happened to us that first Christmas. We were called to take on a new attitude. No more pulling the covers over our heads. The time of Jesus is here. We are being saved. Salvation had come, redemption is being accomplished. All we have to do is get up and meet and accept Him. Funny things happen in life. Sometimes not too “haha” funny. The light dims, the warmth cools, and we start pulling the covers over our heads again. When that happens we have to recall these words from Isaiah. We have to reconnect with the Manger, the start of great light and warmth. We have to gather the courage to engage in worship and community once again. The New Year is here. We are being called. Time to arise and shine.

Join us during this Christmas season (all forty days of it). We celebrate the Circumcision of the Lord, the Holy Name of Jesus, the Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord. The SouperBowl of Caring is coming up – help us feed those in need in our local community. Take part in our annual Outrageous Valentine’s Raffle. Stop by for a great homemade spaghetti dinner. Schedule a home blessing. Learn about our music scholarships. Become a member and sign up to help serve the community. We so look forward to meeting you. Time to arise and shine!

You may view and download a copy of our January 2018 Newsletter right here.

Who’s
first?

but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior

The Christmas season is a time for recognizing firsts. As we browse through the scriptures, we encounter those who did things for the first time. It is, however, a little difficult to decide who did what first.

Did John the Baptist proclaim Jesus first? Not really. The Shepherds we honor today did that. They heard about Jesus and told of Him first. They made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child.

Was John the Baptist the first to be killed because of his proclamation of the truth? On December 26th, the Church honors St. Stephen, called the proto-martyr – the first martyr for the faith. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. But on December 28th the Church honors the Holy Innocents, the children and infants killed by Herod after the Magi’s visit. Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region. They were first.

People have an affinity for firsts. We like winners – and these martyrs and evangelists were indeed the first winners. But do we realize that we are all winners? Like the Humble Shepherds, Jesus’ birth heralds the fact that we have been made winners, and are in first place.

In writing to Titus, Paul lays down the way winners, people in first place, are to live. He says that winners are different from non-winners because they lead different lives. Paul shows us that the change wrought in Jesus coming – the appearance of God’s kindness and love – gave us the possibility of changing – becoming victorious. It is not that we have done anything to bring about this change. Rather, it is a change gifted to us by Jesus’ appearance.

Those first visitors encountered this opportunity. Poor and outcast humble shepherds encountered Theophany. They saw the glory of God and heard the message. They were changed to winners, not just by the encounter, but because they acted on it.

Paul walks us through a formula he frequently uses, comparing before and after. In verse 3 he says how things once were – we were total losers: foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another. Now we are winners because, He saved us.

Because we are made winners, people in first place, we are called to boldly and richly live the life laid out for us by the One who gives the first victory.

June – and the newsletter is on-time (even a day-and-a-half early).

June marks Sacred Vocations month in our Holy Church. Take time this month to pray for the Church’s faithful and dedicated bishops, priests, and deacons. They daily kneel and pray for all of us in submission to God and as true servant leaders. They make sacrifice and oblation for the needs and good of all of us. They don’t want to be raised up on pedestals, but only wish to raise all of us up to God.

Pray too for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and diaconate – for strong, determined, brave, and faithful men to set to work for the Kingdom of God:

O Almighty God, look mercifully upon Thy Church and incline the hearts of many of Her sons to offer themselves for the work of the sacred ministry, so that by their labors Thy light may shine in the darkness of the world and the coming of Thy kingdom may be hastened by the perfecting of Thine elect. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


June also marks Father’s Day and the start of our summer series of programs. Please join us for our new monthly Holy Mass and Anointing for Healing to be held on June 15th at 6:15pm. Read more and reflect on what it means to be Church and get updates on Church-wide events for this year of regeneration.

You may view and download a copy of our June 2015 Newsletter right here.

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