Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Last year we dedicated ourselves to focusing on joy. In the spirit of one liturgical and calendar year ending and the next beginning, let’s look back. We began last year in Advent, a season of anticipatory joy. Fitting for us as Christians – God’s children – we awaited the best present ever. Then came that day standing at the stable, looking upon the baby Jesus and living the forty days of joyful celebration that followed. Knowing Jesus is always in our midst as well as newly with us. We walked though each season finding new joy in Christ and each other. Here we are – at the start – again reconnecting, celebrating, and knowing endless joy. Time to smile, shed a tear of joy at the stable, and look ahead.

Join us throughout December for a jam packed schedule of holy events, fellowship, and mostly joy. Escape the harangue of the world and find peace, time out from the madness in Jesus and the family of faith.

Send in your Polish Food Sale orders. Get a memory cross. Pick up those Christmas wafers / Opłatki. Join us for our annual Christmas Vigil / Wigilia pot-luck will be held on Sunday, December 18th following Holy Mass. Our SOCL students will present a short play for your reflection and enjoyment. Our brother, Derek Westcott will present two musical pieces he has been working on for months. Come see and support them. Genealogy, roots, stipends, college, read up…

You may view and download a copy of our December 2016 Newsletter right here.

Help the me in me
to decrease.

John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

In the some Churches the celebration of the Lord’s Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ threefold revelation.

Jesus is revealed to the nations in the visit of the Magi. Jesus and the Holy Trinity is revealed at Jesus’ Baptism: heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Jesus is revealed to His disciples at Cana in Galilee when He changes water to wine. You have got to love the Church’s celebration especially when you get a three-for-one deal.

In the west we spread the celebration of these events over several weeks. What remains most important is that we maintain focus on the magnificence of God’s coming. Whether commemorated in one day or over several weeks, the importance Jesus’ coming should always be before our eyes. Why so?

We could say that God’s coming to earth is important and magnificent in and of itself. That’s the wow factor – Wow, God is here, walking with us. We could focus on the wonderful teaching and way of life Jesus proclaimed. A lot of people do that even if they don’t believe that Jesus is God. Jesus’ coming and revelation touches each person in a particular way. That’s God’s grace at work in us – drawing us closer each day, entering relationship with us.

Today, two young people will be baptized. They will come forward and will agree to start the journey into relationship with God. They will acknowledge their search for and commitment to God’s revelation in their lives. They will say that they want the world to meet Jesus through them, their words, actions, and way of life.

What we sometimes miss in Jesus’ revelation is the very thing John said: He is mightier, I am not worthy… The Gospel according to St. John is even more explicit in this regard. John the Baptist says: He must increase in importance, while I must decrease…

At its essence, that is what baptism is all about. It is about revealing God as more important than all of my wants and desires. I want God more than anything else. He is all in my life. Fill in the blank: God is more important than my ________. When we do that, we place God at the center of our lives, we become victorious. When we put Jesus front and center and throughout our lives we let Him be powerful and revealed in our lives. It is no longer just me, but Him in me. Then we achieve true joy and glory.

Being a joyful and
holy family

Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.

Today we honor the Holy Family, but what do we mean by that?

In recent years we see more and more representations of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. While these are lovely and heartwarming, they can present a false image, a misrepresentation of the true relationship between Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As Christians we must maintain true and orthodox teaching about that relationship. How should we understand that relationship?

In portraying Jesus we often see Him as a Child alone with His Mother. This stresses the teaching that Jesus is “a Son without a father, Who was begotten of the Father without a mother before the ages.”

Traditionally, Jesus is never portrayed alone with Saint Joseph or with Joseph and Mary as a pair of parents. Joseph’s fatherly role is not understood as some sort of head of the ‘Holy Family;’ rather, he is seen as the Providentially provided guardian of Mary and her Divine Child. His humble acceptance and virtuous fulfillment of this role holds a very special lesson and example for us.

What we learn from this is that the Christian life is a family life with family love and caring not defined by blood but by unity in Jesus. As Mary and Joseph were bound in a new kind of love by the coming of Jesus, so each of us is to be bound to our fellow Christians in this new love.

St. Paul reminds us that this new way of life is to be filled with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, and over all these love. What a way to live!

So what we mean by ‘Holy Family’ is that God has created a new model of relationship. The definition of family has grown. Of course family includes our natural family and the model God has ordained since creation. It also includes, since Jesus’ coming, a changed and expanded order of nature. Family is caring not just by blood, but also by unity in faith in Jesus.

As we celebrate this Holy day and our calling to be one family in Jesus let us resolve to be faithful to this great family. Let us encounter one another as St. Paul says we should. Let us remind ourselves of the true joy to be found in family.

The on-time (sorry, but not early) newsletter streak continues.

January – a time of new beginnings. What better way to start the new year than with circumcision? St. Paul told us that works like circumcision in the flesh are meaningless. What is required is a true dedication – a circumcision of the heart. We get there by faith. We cannot do things for God or achieve heaven by works, but we can dedicate ourselves by faith, and from that flows great deeds born out of joy and heaven.

January – the midst of the Christmas season. Tons of events and a real quick turn-around into the pre-Lenten season. It is going to fly by. Get updates on the work of the Church’s Future Direction Committee. Read about a new year dedicated to reverence, and a local theme focused on joy. Important information on our Church’s democratic process (yes, we really do need your help to keep it alive) is included too. Read up and remember – be joy filled in Jesus.

You may view and download a copy of our January 2016 Newsletter right here.

Let’s hurry
up – part 2

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, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

Last week we heard that Mary had hastened to care for her kinswoman, Elizabeth. This hastened journey was part of a long line of journeying that had occurred throughout salvific history.
Like Mary, we are urged to faithfully journey toward Christ. We were asked, as part of our Advent preparation, to show forth our acceptance of God’s will and the great joy that comes from His service.

Now the Christ child is among us – with Christmas joy – reborn in our hearts. We are now asked to show forth a new perspective and a refreshed sense of happiness and peace.

Today we hear that the shepherds were the first to hear of Jesus’ coming. They had a choice. They could remain where they were or they could take up the journey. They immediately responded by setting out on a journey to Bethlehem. “Let us go over to Bethlehem…

The coming of Jesus was not the end of journeying, but the start of a new journey – the most important and magnificent one of all – to true joy.

These humble shepherds had the first opportunity to respond. They were extraordinarily humble people who had been extraordinarily blessed. They could have focused on the place where they were, where they existed, but instead they got up to go – to take the journey to Jesus – the source of all that is extraordinary.

Like these humble shepherds we have an opportunity. We can maintain our ordinary lives and get by. We can stay where we are and attend to the shepherding of our work, laundry, child rearing, shopping and so on, or become extraordinary shepherds. To become extraordinary shepherds, we like the humble shepherds must set out on the journey to make known the saying which had been told concerning this child.

That does not mean that we get out of our work, laundry, child rearing, shopping and so on but that it in all those things we have the opportunity to spread the joy of the Great Shepherd. Each task and each trip will be a new opportunity to live joyfully in Jesus.

It has been said that we idealize the past and dream of a perfect future. If we take up the journey, each day will be extraordinarily joyful.

The on-time/early newsletter record goes on… Well sort of, posted here a few days later but delivered in church on the 29th.

December – that time for going to church for Christmas. St. Paul told us that through the Church something amazing will happen in our lives. Going to church is great,but becoming through Church is so much more. Check it out.

December continues our Advent journey of preparation and expectation. Tons of news on so many great events (2 dinners, Christmas preparation, St. Nicholas, Parish Committee nominations – get your name in. Get clued in by reading through the newsletter.

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

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord

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But when is the
first Sunday?

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

The Church’s calendar is a rather complicated endeavor. You have to be really good at math to properly assemble it, and understand various historical nuances.

In our parish, the calendar may seem a little odd. We continue to honor the Christmas season right through February 2nd, the Solemnity of the Presentation. Our Christmas decorations remain, yet the vestments we use will change to green next week. It will be the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Wait, ummmm, what happened to the First Sunday in Ordinary Time?

Technically, Ordinary Time is observed in two periods: The first period beginning on the day after the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord (which we celebrate today) and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday; and The second period beginning on the Monday after Pentecost (the conclusion of the Easter Season) and continuing until the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent.

That may be the right answer, but it really does not answer our question: When/where is the First Sunday in Ordinary Time?

We could see today’s Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord as replacing or offsetting the First Sunday in Ordinary Time or we could look at it another way. The Baptism of the Lord is a start, a beginning, a first thing we must live every day.

On this day God reveals that Jesus is indeed His Son, the Messiah. The identity of God is made know: On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Our lives are filled with ordinariness. But, it all depends on how we interpret our ordinary experiences. If we simply ignore our ordinary every day experiences or see them has having no importance, we are missing something very important. Our ordinariness is not meaningless. Every moment, our every beginning, is to be seen and experienced in Jesus.

Jesus came to show us that what is ordinary – what is us – is so very important to Him. He shows us that our ordinariness is graced and we can accomplish all through and in Him. He has taken us by the hand. Every Sunday and every ordinary moment is of first importance lived in Him.

Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family 2015

Icon-of-the-Holy-Family-of-Nazareth-Photograph

Bless and protect
our family.

Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.

How very important is St. Paul’s discourse with the people of Colossae in Asia Minor. The primary subject of the section of his letter we read today is how to live the ideal Christian life.

As Jesus had told us: [we] are not of the world, even as [He is] not of the world. But we must live here; we must work to transform the world, conforming it to Jesus’ way of life so that His kingdom may be made real among us. That is the job we accept in our baptism. As such we must strive to be living examples. We must work toward the perfection of life Jesus modeled for His disciples – that’s us.

The Church at Colossae was not without troubles. Paul had spent two years planting and building the Church in Asia Minor. Starting in Ephesus he branched out and as Acts tells us: “all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.” Of course, Paul wasn’t solely responsible, for the initial hearers of the word became proclaimers of the Word.

From prison, Paul had heard that the Colossians, who had at one time been strong in their faith, were now vulnerable to deception about the faith. He wrote to refute each of the errors the Colossians were tempted to embrace and which were dividing them. The letter, however, takes readers far beyond theology. Paul cared deeply that all of his readers (including us) understand the context of their lives within God’s Story, and what that looks like in their relationships. We can imagine the disputes that were taking place, the confusion, and people stepping forward as ‘thought leaders.’ Others saying, ‘Forget it, I’m quitting.’ Paul was calling them back to right faith and right action – that they be one body, one family. They were not to quit, even if offended, but to forgive, to become better, and to be living examples of life in the family of Christ.

He puts a fine point on this by saying: And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Whatever we do when we enter the doors of the Church, and when we leave is to be done in the name of Jesus. Very appropriate to us, the family of Christ blessed and protected at Holy Name of Jesus!

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus 2015

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First reading: Exodus 3:13-15
Psalm: Ps. 113:1-6
Epistle: Philippians 2:5-11
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and for evermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the LORD is to be praised!

Today’s Solemnity holds special significance for our Parish, for it was established under the patronage of Jesus’ Most Holy Name. It is our patronal feast day.

All Churches are dedicated to the worship of God, of course, and when Christians first became able to build churches they built them on holy sites associated with events in scripture, the life of Jesus, or over the tombs of the martyrs. If the site where the parish church was being built had no particular significance the parish church would be dedicated in the name of God, the Trinity, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin, a saint, or an event from the history of salvation.

The naming of parish churches keeps the history of salvation before our eyes and in our thoughts in a particular way. As such, the celebration of a parish feast ought to be something special, full of prayer and fellowship. It is a celebration, a kind of birthday party. It is something that every parishioner should participate in, giving thanks to God for our place of worship, for God’s mercies to us, for the intercession and protection of our patron in our walk through life. For our parish family and our fellowship it is Jesus’ Holy Name.

We can see that our parish family truly recognizes the import and power of Jesus’ Holy Name. We notice that when Jesus’ name is spoken in the liturgy – and hopefully also in our personal lives – we bow our heads. Jesus’ Holy Name is recognized when we say ‘Praise be the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ’ and we reply ‘now and forevermore.’

This Solemnity is interesting. In our Holy Polish National Catholic Church it has been consistently celebrated. Not so in other places. This Solemnity has been celebrated on any number of days or not at all. In some Churches it has been celebrated variously on January 1st, in some places as only an optional celebration on January 3rd, 8th, 14th, 15th, or 31st. In some places on August 7th. On February 14th, 1969 the Roman Church removed the feast and only later restored it in 2002.

As a Church and a parish we have consistently recognized the power and beauty of Jesus’ Holy Name. It is in His Name that we are saved. It is in His Name that we are blessed and reconciled. It is in His Name that we are made the children of God and co-heirs to the promises of heaven.

St. Bernard, writing on the Holy Name of Jesus, tells us that reciting Jesus’ Holy Name produces holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affections.

We are all in great need. There is a cure for our needs. In the faith-filled invocation of Jesus’ Holy Name we are sustained, cured, led away from ills like anger, pride and inappropriate passions. In Jesus’ Name we are given the powerful grace needed to conquer, and assurance of His life giving compassion. The Name of Jesus is the purest, and holiest, the noblest and most generous of names. If we allow the Name of Jesus to reach the depths of our heart, we will be changed and filed with heavenly virtue.

St. Bernard tells us that when we take up our pen, write the Name Jesus: if we write books, let the Name of Jesus be contained in them, If we are ill, call on Jesus’ Name. It we are troubled, call on His Name. If we are in danger, spiritually or bodily, call on His Name. No temptation, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist His Holy Name.

Yet today, blasphemies against Jesus’ Holy Name are rampant. We, as the special beneficiaries of the graces we receive in Jesus’ Holy Name, must never take it in vain or use it as a weapon against anything or anyone. It should be seen solely as our defense against evil. If we hear it being misused, say a prayer for that person, that they might come to realize the beauty and power of what they so recklessly step on. Not that they be punished, but that they be saved.

We, as a parish and a Church have been greatly blessed in honoring Jesus’ Holy Name. May His Holy Name ever remain before our eyes, hearts, and minds. Let us hold it in highest honor and love it. In doing so we are and will continue to be blessed. Amen.

Thank You Lord for the Year Past and Bless Us in the Year Ahead

We give Thee our most humble and hearty thanks O God, for blessings without number which we have received from Three in 2014, for all Thy goodness and loving kindness, for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life. And, we beseech Thee, give us that due sense of all Thy mercies, that our hearts may be truly thankful for all things, and that we show forth Thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to Thy service and by walking before Thee in holiness and righteousness all our days. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Lord, we pray for all mankind in 2015, that we may brought to know, love and serve Thee. We pray for Thy Holy Church throughout all the world and especially for our own part of the Church, for our Bishops, Priests, Deacons and People.

We pray for the employed, that they may work as unto Thee and not unto men. We pray for the unemployed, that they may find work and be saved from despondency. Be Thou their strength in adversity.

We pray that the sick be healed, the hungry fed, the mourners comforted, the poor succored and the afflicted in mind and body be firmly held in Thy deep peace, that peace which passeth all understanding.

Bless our friends and enemies and grant us all the spirit of penitence, that we may be forgiven through the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ or Savior, who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.

We wish you every blessing in the year ahead.

Fr. Jim and the Parish Committee of Holy Name of Jesus