What is it
really?

“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

There is a disconnect between what people think of the Kingdom of God, what Jesus taught about it, and the stresses that have been placed on Jesus’ words for centuries. It is like one of those jokes you see in magazines or on-line; the same sentence with two completely different meanings, depending where you put the accent. Late night television hosts have tons of fun with double entendres.

The sci-fi author Damon Knight wrote “To Serve Man” which was later adapted into a Twilight Zone episode. It is a double entendre that could mean “to perform a service for humanity” or “to serve a human as food.” Think of that next time the Church calls us to serve our fellow man!

The parable of the mustard seed is one of the many positive statements Jesus made about the Kingdom. He placed His stress on our faith and our shelter in the Kingdom. Think about all its implications. A small start in faith will grow into something awesome. Planting a small seed of faith in someone – your children, grandchildren, a friend, co-worker, or neighbor, will grow into something great. The very Kingdom, begun through the work of the God-man, Jesus Christ, twelve co-workers, and seventy-seven disciples would grow into a great protective shelter for many. We all dwell in its shade.

The fact is, Jesus provided a very positive message about our home, our destiny, joy, freedom, forgiveness, and God’s rock solid guarantees. The Kingdom is not what people suspect it is; rather it is what Jesus taught it is. St. Paul picks up on this when he says: We are always courageous. If God’s message was punishing and negative, we would not be courageous, but fearful, cowering.

We need to place the stress back where Jesus put it. His is the message of hope, the message the world cannot overcome. We must be courageous for the beauty and joy that awaits us. The Kingdom is better than anyone’s negative stress or accent point. Live in and tell what the Kingdom really is!

I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand.

Jesus spoke those words in His final instructions to His Apostles and disciples, the night of the Last supper. Jesus, in His infinite wisdom and love, knew they were not quite ready for everything He had to tell them. It remains that way today. Jesus has many things for us to understand and to accomplish. He does not just lay it all on us at once, but rather, as we are ready. In the verse after this one, Jesus goes on to say: The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. That is great consolation – that the Holy Spirit would come, has indeed come – to guide us and train us in all of God’s truth and in Jesus’ desire for our future. As parents, grandparents, and family members we hold great expectations for our children’s futures. Obviously, we don’t lay it all on them at the age of two – ‘this is everything I expect you to accomplish.’ It would be too much, and frankly too presumptuous. Rather, we instruct and guide, pave the way forward. We watch as our children evolve. As young people, we come to realize that the expectations of others, and those we place on ourselves, may not often turn out the way anyone expects – but yet in a way we have been prepared for all along. During the month of June we take pause to consider God’s desire for us. We hopefully stop, shut out the noise, and listen to the things He is revealing to us. His revelation is now. Stop, listen, and feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit, His nudge in a certain direction and for a glorious purpose. Jesus puts His desires on our hearts and minds, He leads us by the sending forth of the Holy Spirit. We have to realize that when He says we are ready – we indeed are ready. Jesus and the Spirit are never before the right time, never before we can bear it, but when we are ready. Have we heard Him speak? Will we take up His charge? Having heard, it is time to say ‘Yes LORD.’

The June newsletter offers tons of information on vocations. Read our Bishop’s Pastoral Letter. Pray fervently and diligently for the gift of vocations. Read from the Fathers on humility and sacrifice. Join us on Father’s Day for Holy Mass and breakfast, and pray for the special men in our lives. Check out our list of summer events and happenings. Read up on ‘saints’ who hate us and false apparitions and visions. Jesus is indeed the final word and we should be following His teaching; all that and more in our June 2018 Newsletter.

What is wrong
with them?

Jesus came home with his disciples. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Today we re-enter the post-Pentecost season of Ordinary Time. As with nature around us, green has returned and we are called to growth.

In this season, we re-encounter the teachings of Jesus, His call to us to be different, to be changed, to be rich and abundant in our growth in holiness.

Jesus’ family and the people of His hometown could not believe Him. Who is this man? Where does He get all this from? He must be crazy! Truth be told, if we were to really and honestly live as Jesus demands, our families and friends would say the same of us.

This is not a sermon about what we should do, for I well know that many here live as Jesus demands. Many here follow His call in ways that would make their families and friends say, if they knew the extent of their life in Jesus, ‘They are out of their minds.’

The world really does think that of Christians – that we are mad. The world of sin, greed, conflict, anger, and deceit would like to see us all go away. It is not just the fact that the world is in sin, but because our life in Jesus nags them. It speaks to them of the fearful truth that the world’s sinful ways are weak, temporary, and oh so fleeting. It is tough to look at people and know they will win while you are on the losing side.

Jesus came to tie up the ‘strong man’ of sin. He came to bind that strong man so that we who live in Christ prevail – come out as the winners we are destined to be in the end. When the sinful hear that, they tremble. They call us crazy, misdirect, and use every ruse to try to incapacitate the true victor – Jesus Christ and His followers. Thanks be, they will not win.

As we come out of the joy filled season of Easter, as we recounted the great gift of the Holy Spirit, and reflected on the identity of God and His great gift of Himself in the Holy Eucharist, let us once again take up the mantle of life in Christ. Let us be Jesus crazy before the world. Let the world be astonished and nagged because we live the beatitudes, turn the other cheek, give it all away, and offer up our very selves for our brothers and sisters. Let us pray that our life in Jesus is that evident. Let us hope the world says of us: ‘What’s wrong with them?’ so we may show Jesus all the more.

Bread for the
journey.

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.

Some of us may have heard of, or may have even read Henri Nouwen’s “Bread for the Journey.” You can often find quotes from this book on church websites or in bulletins.

Henri Nouwen was a professor at Harvard University and Yale University before becoming the senior pastor at the L’Arche community in Toronto, Canada. L’Arche is a community of people with disabilities living together. Nouwen was a prolific writer and wrote numerous books on spirituality and daily living. Bread for the Journey is one of his most well known. It is a book centered on Jesus Christ as savior, teacher, creator, and peace giver.

Why is it such a popular book? Why does its title ring true for so many Christians?

One term we hear from time to time is way-bread, the Way-bread of the Altar. What a beautiful term. On the night that Jesus was to be arrested, before He was to be killed, He gave us Himself as way-bread.
As prefigured in the journey of Israel, across the dessert, to the Promised Land, where God gave them Manna, bread for the journey, so now Jesus has given us bread for the journey.

We so need this bread, and Jesus gave it to us. We need strength for the journey. We need Him to be part of us; strengthening us, reinforcing and building up what the world tries to tear down.

We hunger for that, both spiritually and physically. In receiving, we recognize that He really fills us for the journey.

Every week we pray, shortly after the Our Father, in the words of St. Paul: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” Our answer, for the journey, is Yes, yes it is. We have Him fully with us, Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity – fully on-board for the journey.

Nouwen’s title tings true because when we receive, we are receiving everything we could possibly need. The greatest gift! Bread for the journey.

To read the original version as a PDF file.

June 1, 2018

To the Very Reverend, Reverend Fathers and the Reverend Messrs., and my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord:

¡Viva el mes de junio! That’s Spanish for “Long live June,” “Hurray for June.” Hurray, indeed! And welcome to the month of vocations in the Polish National Catholic Church: June is Sacred Vocations month for us. June is the month we focus on our great need for priests, and on the need for significant donations throughout the PNCC to be made to the Clergy Pension Plan.

Our need of priests is dire and critical, but I am nonetheless hopeful and optimistic. Even though no Polish National Catholic families have sacrificed even one of their men, young or old, to our altars in the past twelve years, (and it doesn’t look like any family will in the near future), I remain optimistic. Even though our seminary has been empty for that period of time, except for the occasional priest from another Church orienting himself there to work as a priest in the PNCC, I have good reason to hope because I have experienced God’s providence. Our parish in Denver was declining but was pulled back from the brink of closure by an Hispanic priest from Mexico and 90 people of Mexican heritage who now comprise the great majority of that parish. St Francis, Denver, is growing, and is enthusiastically PNCC, and is flying 18 young people and 6 adults to Convo 2018 here next month.

Because Father Alfonso Castillo needs pastoral help there, I enthusiastically agreed to review applications from priest friends of his in Mexico to provide assistance to him, and subsequently serve our American parishes desperate for priests. In our Diocese, two priests, in fine parishes, are retiring next year. I have no one to fill them. A priest in our Diocese is on three parishes in Jersey. Three priests are on two parishes each. And there are ailing and aging priests all over the place! And yet I am hopeful. So I say, ¡Viva México!

With the increase in aging clergy comes the need for our Clergy Pension Plan to support them all. We collect for this vital entitlement throughout the year and especially in the month of June. We need more capital to invest, the interest from which the pension payments are made. From age 70, a PNCC priest can look forward to a monthly check in the amount of $600; and his widow, a check in the amount of $300. Please be generous in this drive. And so I say, in my optimism, ¡Viva el Plan de Pensión del Clero! (Hurray for our Clergy Pension plan!)

I believe God is showing us a potential direction for the future of our Church; and that pathway seems to be presenting itself from south of the border. For the Methodist Church, that pathway is from South Korea, and for the Roman Catholic Church, from India among other sources. In light of all of this, Bishop Hodur has indeed blessed us with a most optimistic motto for our Church when he penned: A través de la Verdad, el Trabajo y las Dificultades ¡Venceremos!

Yours in Christ,

Bishop Bernard

The best family
ever!

Brothers and sisters: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ

How do we get the best family ever? We all have conceptions of what a great family would be. It would be loving, comforting, full of life and joy, faithful, of one mind and heart, and it would not end with only one generation, but would live on forever.

So often, we spend Trinity Sunday trying to work through the theology of God, One God in Three Divine Persons. We can make the day about thinking, or we may even make it about our feelings toward God, but rarely do we make it about relationship.

From the very beginning of scripture, God reveals Himself as relationship. Jesus’ coming to us was about building relationship and community. Jesus’ post-resurrection and post-Ascension reality is about a people as one body.

Paul, in writing to the Romans, spells it all out for us. He did this often, talking about the unity that we have as followers of Christ. He talks about that ideal family that has moved from conception to reality.

We have a family built on love. In a great reality it was created through the self-sacrifice of love. No greater love hath a man…

We have a family that offers the ultimate in comfort. It is a comfort that surpasses merely being comfortable – it gives us absolute assurance and guaranteed heavenly promises – God does not lie in His promises.

We have the fullness of life and the joy of freedom. Our joy and freedom comes from having all our debts paid and settled once and for all. Everything that bound us and weighed us down has been removed.

Faithfulness is derived from our dedication to God, to lives modeled on Jesus’ life, and the way we care for each other.

Our life does not end here and now, with a family fading away at the moment of death, but lasts forever in the Heavenly Court where we have our inheritance in Christ.

We have all this from the Spirit of Pentecost, in the family of Christ, the Unity of the Trinity; the best family ever.

You
have it.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

In the days prior to the first Pentecost, Jesus’ followers were in one place together. In the upper room they followed a single command and awaited a single promise. Jesus enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father.” So they did.

What exactly were they waiting for?

When Peter spoke to the gathered masses from every corner of the world, he quoted, as Paul does in writing to the Corinthians, from the Prophet Joel. The outpouring of the Spirit, the promise of the Father was for everyone: slaves and free, young and old, male and female. Paul calls it the gifts for everyone, different and varied – for the benefit of all. They awaiting ‘having it.’

The advent of the Spirit means that we, along with every Christian, have been endowed, gifted, given, granted, and provided with true power, commissioning, and strength for the work of God. The gift of the Spirit pulls us together to share in the ministry of witness and proclamation. We have it.

That witness and proclamation is simple and straightforward. It is sweet to the ears of those who feel so rejected and put aside; not just by outward prejudice and hatred, but also by inner questioning and doubt. Here is what to say:

The Kingdom of God is here, come take part. The Kingdom of God is for you. There are gifts awaiting you and an inheritance as well. God is ready to bless you with His Spirit, for His work. God, and I, value you beyond any label – world given or self-imposed.

Pentecost power is knowledge that we have it and a call to action. We possess a gift, perhaps several, for the benefit of all. The Spirit of God came to the apostles and disciples suddenly and disturbingly, as the sound of a violent wind and tongues of fire. So it should be with us. Let us allow that strong driving wind to knock the dust off our gifts. Let it burn away our storage shelves. Let the gifts we have stored fall from their closets and break open into the world. Seeing them new again, let us set to work for some benefit.

Teaching love for
me too.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

Are ways of behaving learned or innate (i.e., natural)? A bit of research will show that behavioral scientists have opinions on both sides. This question seems to puzzle us more than in the past. Is parenting natural or learned? Is love natural or learned?

One of the best reflections on this subject states that it is a little of both. The Natural Law tells us that there are certain aspects of every person that are God created. We have built in tendencies to do right, moral, good things. We are naturally drawn to God. We have the call to love within us. Of course, those things can be thwarted by experience or by choice to sin.

Yet, one of the most wonderful aspects of the human person is an individual’s ability to overcome. A great illustration of the ability to overcome is “The Other Wes Moore.” Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence?

The Christian community faced a very hostile world. They were all Wes Moore. Life was cheap. The haves had, the have-nots were slaves. Women and children had no value – were no more than property. Power ruled all, all else bowed. Nevertheless, the natural call remained, the ability to overcome existed.

The love of Christ overcame for that very reason. The message of the gospel and the example of Jesus allow us to overcome and win. Jesus took what is innate in us and said follow me – and you will flourish. God so loved us – and we can be just like Him. People heard of the power of God’s love and said – me too!

So we must put message of the Gospel first. We must love, value, and break down barriers and obstacles like God. The world needed this then, the world needs this now. The old ways have re-emerged, so the triumph of God’s love must once again offer ‘me too’ to everyone through us.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

We can get caught up in the two ends of the spectrum that are part of every faithful Christian’s life. We either experience great joy, the uplifting graces of the Holy Spirit poured out on us, or we end up on the road to martyrdom. Is that all there is to the Christian life? Really, the struggle in a Christian’s life is that we live much of it in the middle. In considering our lives, lived in the middle, we may ask: How do I sacrifice what I want for what God wants? How do I proclaim God’s truth when the world, even my family, will hate me? How can I face day-to-day life with faithfulness? Those questions plague us – but thanks be to God, He offers us a way forward by example. Of course, Jesus stands first and foremost as one who came from the middle boldly. He proclaimed truth, to those, like us, who were in the middle, who faced daily challenges of faithfulness. He offered real truth that took them from the middle to the heights of heaven. He gave them strength for their ordinary lives because the promise was oh so much more. Yes, the popular folks rejected Him, but the Father welcomed Him. This is our hope. This month we look to the example of Mary. Talk about lives in the middle. Plain, ordinary folks like us – struggling day to day with ridicule, mockery, and exile. Mary, referred to by her community as worse than a prostitute. Joseph, seen as not man enough. Jesus – an illegitimate child. They faced the worst kind of ridicule and rejection, yet lived lives in the middle, working day-to-day, faithful to God at the deepest of levels. Their struggles, much like ours. They answer the essential question: How do I get by faithfully? As we live in the middle, let us look to their example, courage, and to God’s unfailing help. Let us count our ordinary struggles and our lives in the middle as a joy in Jesus.

So much going on. The first ever Gospel Concert at HNJ on May 19th at 2pm. Come out and experience 18 performers – song, dance, poetry, stories, and more… A lunch will be served as well. Bring mom and pray for her. Honor all the special women in our lives – wives, daughters, moms, grandmothers, godmothers, aunts, partners… We will have a special breakfast in their honor. We celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension on the actual day – Thursday, May 10th – no switching things around here. Check out our Men’s Spiritual Retreat, sign up for summer youth events, we honor those served and gave their lives for our country on Memorial Day. Oh, and Why Not Communion in the Hand – check out our article and more…

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

What?
Who?

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.

Today we hear a wonderful testament to what God’s love does when, through the Holy Spirit, He opens Himself to us and calls us into fellowship with Him.

Cornelius was a Roman Centurion – Centurion, like century, meaning one hundred. He had command of at least one hundred soldiers. That means that his commanders held him in some esteem. He was promotable. Acts attests that Cornelius was also a God fearing and generous man: a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms liberally to the people, and prayed constantly to God. He didn’t just do these things on his own, he led others to God, his family and friends. An angel tells him to send for Simon Peter, so he sends messengers to get him.

In the mean time… Peter was praying at home, and was hungry too. God sent him a vision of a cloth full of food – all kinds of foods considered unclean and impure by the Jewish people. God tells him to slaughter and eat. Peter, of course, objects: “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” This happens three times and God clearly states: “What I have cleansed, you must not call common.”

Peter, perplexed by all this, is then visited by a delegation from a Centurion. Uh oh… The Romans were here to get him. God reassures Peter, and Peter sets off for Cornelius’ house. We heard the rest today.

The call to Christian love is to love like God, surpassing boundaries, growing fellowship, participating in the communal life of the Body.

This is a testament to the powerful work of God who accepts us and brings us into His Church. He takes what is unclean and common and makes it beautiful and acceptable before Him. He sends forth His Spirit, not as man expects or wills, but as He deems fit and proper. He sees what we do; even small acts of faithfulness and charity, and pours out His graces on us all the more. He sets the ultimate example of love – and if we listen to Jesus, we love one another exactly as He loves us.