She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

We begin our summer with the celebration of Holy Mass on Sunday, July 2nd followed quickly by the celebrations of the Visitation and Independence Day. The Visitation holds special significance for us. What would summer be without visits with family and friends, getting together for picnics, or the traditional family road trip to go visiting? The scene of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth is part of the larger story of salvation. The story line in Luke’s gospel is the story of God’s powerful desire to visit with us, to be present in our lives. Mary’s visit with Elizabeth would not have been possible without the angel Gabriel’s visit with Zachariah (Elizabeth’s husband) telling him that they would have a son. It would not have been possible without that same angel’s visit to Mary, telling her that God desired to place His Son in the world, to visit with us. All of salvation history is a telling of God’s visitation with us. He wants to be with us, even when we do not want to be with Him. He remains with us and calls us back even when we wander off. He continually calls us into deeper and deeper relationship with Him. He is the visitor that never leaves! As we contemplate our best visitor, let us also take up Mary’s example As we get out there to visit this summer, let’s talk about the One best visitor ever. Help others invite Him into their lives.

Join us this summer as we continue to visit with Jesus, as we are assured of His abiding presence with us. There are tons of summer activities – Kurs Youth Camp, Independence Day, the National United Choirs Convention and Music Workshop, the YMSofR Golf Tournament, our neighborhood and community picnic, and so much more. We will continue gathering bras – that’s right, bras!

You may view and download a copy of our July/August 2017 Newsletter right here.

Open to God’s
reward.

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

These scriptures for Ordinary Time speak to where we are and urge us to deeper spiritual formation, authentic responses to God’s call in the midst of our challenges, and to a renewed commitment to evangelism.

Earlier in St. Matthew, chapter 10, Jesus sends out the Twelve. He commissions them to: go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Jesus advised the disciples to accept no extra money, but to receive the welcome of those who would care for them on their mission. He specifically points out that: The laborer deserves his keep. Today we focus on our task of receiving those who are sent.

The Church sends forth its priests to serve local communities, and in our tradition the local community is given the option of accepting the one sent. This helps because when the personality of the one sent and of those receiving him mesh, good things happen, graces abound, and the work of drawing more into the kingdom is productive. Jesus remains with the sent and those who receive them. He does not turn His back on them. He rewards them.

Today, Jesus addresses those receiving the ones sent and He states His expectation as well as the rewards given to those who meet His expectation. By illustration – whoever gives to the one sent, even a cup of cold water will be rewarded. Whoever receives the sent, because they have sacrificed their lives to carry the Gospel, will be rewarded. Isn’t this a wonderful prospect – a reward guaranteed by God?

If we look at our community we see the rewards that come from graciously receiving the sent. We see God’s promises fulfilled. The cooperative and positive relationship between our local church and those sent to it has resulted in growth, greater charity, and a joy that overcomes any obstacle. The rewards and the blessings we receive are not separate from God, nor is He just a bystander. He is active in our lives – delivering on His promises because we listen to Him. He is blessing us! Let’s be absolutely clear, God has blessed our work specifically because we give that cup of cold water to the sent and in fact to all who come and find welcome here.

We hold Jesus out to others by our authentic response of welcome. How we receive the sent, how we receive all, is how we receive Jesus. Open to all we open ourselves to God’s reward.

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

…and the greatest of these is love. Famous words we recall hearing at almost every wedding. I wonder if St. Paul, in writing to the Church at Corinth, was thinking of pretty words for marriage ceremonies? Likely not, marriage wasn’t even on his radar. Frankly, it wasn’t even on the Church’s radar at that time. Paul cared more about the way Christians interacted with each other and with the world that was awaiting the hope only Jesus could offer. Were Christians, therefore, living and showing the lives the saved and redeemed should be living? We have, in Paul’s words, a certain irony. Words we hear at a wedding – at the beginning of a new sacred vocation for a couple – are words that should inform our vocational lives as Christians. The message of Jesus and of the Christian faith is a call to vocation. We are called to participate full-time, with every breath, in God’s creative and redemptive work. The Christian life is to be vocational to the core. It is a complete and total way of living. As we celebrate and pray in this month of sacred vocations let us remember that each of us is called to the most sacred vocation of all – to love completely as Jesus loved us.

Join us beginning with the celebration of the Church’s birthday at Pentecost, through the post-Easter solemnities, and in enjoying some great fellowship. We will be having our Rummage and Bake Sale, our seniorate Corpus Christi celebration, and we will be gathering bras – that’s right, bras!

You may view and download a copy of our June 2017 Newsletter right here.

we commend ourselves in every way: by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God

This month our Holy Church holds its Seventeenth Annual Mission and Evangelism conference. This coincides with the words above from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Church at Corinth. How do we commend ourselves to others? How do we show forth what a genuine life in Jesus means? Being truly genuine in our walk with Jesus is at once a difficult task and a great reward. In May we look to Mary as a perfect example of someone who genuinely walked with her Son. Let us focus on what it means to be genuine, authentic – or as some would say – being real. Let us commend ourselves to others as Jesus’ authentic followers with confession, repentance, fellowship, obedience, genuineness, and truthful speech. By doing so, the power of God will show through us. We, like Mary, will glow with His real and genuine love. We will be real!

Join us continuing our celebration of Easter joy and in celebrating mom and our heavenly mother this May. There is so much going on in May and we are actively getting ready for our many summer activities. Check out all this and more, plus read up on how we are called to baptize our culture in this month’s newsletter.

You may view and download a copy of our May 2017 Newsletter right here.

Please join us as we walk with the Lord. Our schedule for Holy Week and Easter:

  • Palm Sunday, April 9: Holy Mass at 9:30 and 11:30am.
  • Holy Monday, April 10: Holy Mass for Healing at 6:15pm.
  • Holy Tuesday, April 11: Clergy Conference. Holy Mass of Chrism (Cathedral in Scranton).
  • Maundy Thursday, April 13: Holy Mass, Procession, Stripping of the Altars, 7pm.
  • Good Friday, April 14:
    • Cross Walk at 11am,
    • Private Devotions at 2pm,
    • Bitter Lamentations at 3pm,
    • Liturgy of the Presanctified and Opening of the Tomb at 7pm.
  • Holy Saturday, April 15: Liturgy of New Fire, Renewal of Baptismal Promises, Blessing of Easter Baskets, 4pm.
  • Solemnity of the Resurrection/Easter, April 16: Solemn Procession and Holy Mass at 8am and Holy Mass at 10am.

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus.

We begin April in Passiontide and end up on the road with the Risen Lord. Isn’t that the way life often goes? We live unfulfilling passions, both attractive and sad, until we find the joy and fulfillment of Jesus. As time passes, old and new passions emerge and sometimes we forget our resurrection joy. We find ourselves in passiontides. This month we rediscover the amazing news of the resurrected Lord. Easter is here. More than just a day in April, it is a present continuous moment. We are called to continuously remove the passiontide veil, see Jesus among us, and live on Jesus’ amazing, eternal, and glorious road. His present Easter!

Join us in completing our Lenten walk with Jesus and join us in rejoicing in His resurrection. Check out our Passiontide, Holy Week, and Easter events, participate in directed giving, reflect during these days, and then commit to doing great things throughout the fifty days of Easter.

You may view and download a copy of our April 2017 Newsletter right here.

Conviction from
the other side.

“Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

This Lent we are focusing on the theme of God’s conviction. Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would come to convict the world – clearly declaring our guilt.

Recognizing the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we have a choice. We can acknowledge and accept our guilt and flee to Jesus. We can declare our faith in him, admit our sin and conviction, and make Him the Lord of our life. In doing that, all sin is forgiven and we have access to the rich treasury of grace and mercy won for us by Jesus.

On the other hand, we can ignore or self-excuse our conviction. We can bury it, and try to fill our lives with the kinds of noise that shuts out the work of the Holy Spirit. When we do that we grow deaf to God’s call. We condemn ourselves to the coldness of outsider status.

For those who accept God’s conviction, who put their faith in the Lord, something amazing happens. They move from the conviction of guilt to a conviction in righteousness. This is what happened 120 years ago.

In 1897, a group of church goers moved from the hopelessness of external faith to the deep conviction born of a declaration of faith in Jesus alone. Today we celebrate and recognize that day.

The Christian conviction they experienced, their acceptance of the Lord over “going along” transformed their hearts. They moved from an outward conformity – casual agreement and compliance with their Church’s religious rules – to a deep conviction in what God promised them.

People can casually agree or conform with a lot of things and not be fully convinced of them or even believe any of them. People can go for many years living a lie, being deceived about what they believe and what they practice. It isn’t until they face the winds of affliction that the truth of their beliefs is tested. That is when they find out whether their house is built on the Rock or it was built on the sand.

The faithful of 1897 found Christian conviction built on salvation in Jesus. With that revelation, they faced the onslaught of the enemy, of persecution, trials, and affliction standing on the Rock. They found out that their old conformity could not carry them.

As they did, we must do. The Lord knows our choice. Our challenge is to examine ourselves to see whether we are in Lord. If we have accepted our conviction and live true conviction we, like they, like the Apostles, saints, martyrs, and heroes of the faith, will move mountains, change the world, bear much fruit, and be truly victorious.

He will come to convict the world of sin, to show the world what has God’s approval, and to convince the world that God judges it.

St. John relates Jesus’ last words before his arrest. Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit is coming to convict all of us. We should be thankful! This conviction by the Holy Spirit serves two purposes. It is a starting point and an ongoing call. The Lord convicts those who are His children. It is proof that we belong to God. A believer’s conviction leads us to continuing repentance and to seeking closer union with God. Let us start Lent right, let us plead guilty, repent, and live God’s life more fully. If we recognize what the Spirit is doing for us we will be ready to truly rejoice at Easter.

Join us this Lent as we walk with Jesus so that we, together, may rejoice in His resurrection. Check out our great Lenten events, participate in directed giving, reflect during our devotional exercises, go on retreat with us, order some Easter food, and look at other great events for the months ahead.

You may view and download a copy of our March 2017 Newsletter right here.

Hurry
up.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste

Reflecting on this team of shepherds we see some amazing things happening.

For the shepherds, their meeting an angel and seeing the whole heavenly host would be amazing enough. Hearing that the Messiah had been born – for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah – represents a promise that had become a dream that for them had now been fulfilled. Amazing to have one’s dreams fulfilled in an instant.

We have several choices when we encounter something amazing. We might stand there with our mouth open. We might jump for joy. We might, after the initial shock, begin to question whether it was real. Would we leave everything, would we abandon our entire life, for that amazing thing?

Throughout faith history we encounter amazing things happening. An elderly barren couple becomes the progenitors of God’s chose people. The people of Israel, enslaved, are freed. Judges are chosen to lead the people against enemies that vastly outnumber them. A youngest son, a shepherd, is anointed king.

In Jesus’ coming those amazing things are magnified. The deaf will hear. The poor will have the good news preached to them. The dead will be raised.

On this Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds the amazing teaches us an important lesson.

Among the amazing things that happened that morning was the fact that the shepherds left their herds. They abandoned their herds, their means of livelihood and hurried toward Bethlehem “to see this thing that has happened, which the Lord made known to them.”

This is the same thing that was to happen thirty years later along the shores of lake of Gennes’aret. Men would leave their livelihood; abandon their families and boats to follow Jesus.

Let us reflect on our faith journey, that moment we finally recognized the power of accepting Jesus and placing our faith in Him. In that the amazing became real for us.

Following Christ goes far beyond just believing certain things about God. It is more than intellectual endeavor. It comes down to our willingness to be part of the amazing and to do the amazing because our lives have been changed by God’s agenda for us.

By God’s grace, the shepherds left their flocks; the apostles dropped their nets. What are we to do? Our call is to hurry up in leaving the old self behind and join with Jesus in living amazing grace filled lives.

December 24: We will hold a Christmas Vigil Holy Mass at 4pm on Christmas Eve.

December 25: The Solemn Shepherds’ Holy Mass of Christmas begins at midnight. During one of the year’s longest nights, we will break forth with light, song, and pronouncement to celebrate Jesus’ birth. The night’s liturgy begins with one of our parish’s women carrying the baby Jesus to the manger. Then the manger is blessed and the Christmas proclamation is made. The Solemn Holy Mass of the Nativity follows with beautiful traditional music of the season.

December 25: For those who prefer, the Holy Mass on Christmas Day will be celebrated at 10am.

Whichever Holy Mass you choose, it’s important that we not forget the reason for the celebration. Come to Jesus’ house on His birthday (and bring family and friends) for these beautiful liturgies.

Other services of the forty day Christmas season coming up include:

  • December 27: Feast – St. John, Apostle & Evangelist. Holy Mass at 7pm with Blessing of Wine
  • January 1: Solemnity of the Circumcision. Holy Mass at 9:30 and 11:30am. Happy 2017!
  • January 2: Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus – Holy Mass at 10am.
  • January 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. Holy Mass with blessing of chalk, charcoal, and incense at 7pm.
  • January 8: Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds. Holy Mass at 9:30 and 11:30am.
  • January 9: Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Holy Mass at 8:30am.