In or out of
the cave?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you

Imagine living our lives in a cave. We can see nothing but images projected on wall in front of us. We are prevented from knowing their true nature. To us, these shadows are our reality. We may name and define the shadows. We may create and entire understanding based on these shadows. But what, if suddenly, we were able to break free from this perceived reality to see things as they really are?

On this Low Sunday let us return to the cave where Jesus had been buried.

In all the encounters in and around that cave, from the burial of Jesus to just after his resurrection, we find people deciding how they would live.

The Jewish leaders had asked for a guard for the tomb. They knew Jesus’ claims. They asked Pilate for soldiers. “You have a guard,” Pilate said. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The guards who had been there the morning of the resurrection ran off to Jerusalem to report what had happened. A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say.

The elders and the guards decided they would live in the cave, to stay there in a world of shadows, refusing to acknowledge the truth.

Peter and John went into the tomb, as did the women who arrived first. They saw the reality. Perhaps not understanding it fully, they still accepted and witnessed by leaving the cave behind.

St. Peter praises God today for a new birth to a living hope. He recognizes the fact that the tomb – Jesus’ tomb and in fact his and our tombs, those caves, are to be left behind. We have reality, understanding – and best of all an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us.

Jesus works to lift us up out of our caves. When we are stubborn like St. Thomas was, He will confront us. He will ask us to see reality and to hope – not just a hope of desire, or of wanting things to be a certain way – but hope that is evident. Let us set forth into the sunlight of Jesus, leaving caves behind.

A whole
year.

Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.”

Raised just as he said. Suddenly all else Jesus said, the full impact of His words, was realized. This came home to me as I prepared the foods for our Easter basket.

I had filled the salt shaker to the top and sealed it, only to realize I hadn’t placed a piece of saran wrap over the top to prevent spillage. As I unscrewed the top to apply the wrap, well there it all went. Salt all over the floor.

The immediate import of the Lord’s words came to me: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” This salt was indeed under my feet and was being trampled into the linoleum. It was useless.

Look at this beautiful drawing completed by our youth (and a few adults). It is various styles of homes. We have square, rectangular, and round homes. We have monochrome and multicolor homes. We have traditional style homes and very contemporary style homes.

If you look very closely at the very first home on the block, there is a sign in the window. Traviss placed a sign in his window that shows a wisdom beyond that of any philosopher or theologian. His house proclaims, “Easter Year.”

That is what this day is all about. This is the sudden and remarkable change this day brings to us. Today gives us Easter forever.

The world offers all sorts of alleged salt and light; none of it lasting. Its salt loses its flavor quickly and is never truly satisfying. Its light is a momentary flash quickly returning us to darkness.

On this most sacred of days it all changed. We went from living day-to-day, grasping after the limited and unfulfilling, and became people of eternal salt and light. We received the power of His eternal promise. Just as He said.

The Lord, in His rising, gives us the opportunity to not only live a year of Easter, but a lifetime of Easter. The wonder of this Easter Sunday is that it made every Sunday this Sunday. Every Sunday throughout the years, decades, and centuries are Easter. We own the perpetual Easter just as Jesus said – days filled with God ordained hope, the perpetual renewal and re-flavoring of our lives.

The sudden and remarkable begun this day has changed us. This day gives us the grace to be the real salt that never loses flavor, that never becomes worthless. The full reality of all Jesus said is real, ours, every day Easter – a sign for our homes – a sign to live by.

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.

We will once again be selling various foods for Easter. Orders are being taken from March 1st – April 7th. Pick up is on Saturday, April 15th from 10am through 1 pm unless other arrangements are made. To place orders please call Stephanie at 518-369-1346 or E-mail her.

  • Gołumbki are $27/dozen, $15/half-dozen, $3 each.
  • Pierogis are $8/dozen, $4.50/half-dozen and are available in potato, onion & cheese, sauerkraut, onion & bacon, and plain cheese.
  • Easter breads or babka are $9 each.

Faith and
courage.

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: ‘Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me’

It is a pretty exclusive deal to belong to Jesus. It requires more than just showing up. It requires a leap of faith and active courage.

The leap of faith is to do what Thomas failed to do after Jesus rose from the dead. To say I believe in You Lord. I welcome you into my life. I am Yours first and foremost. I am sorry for the wrongs I have committed. I trust in You Lord.

Courage is required for that, and even more so to keep at it, to live it out in front of friends, family, and the rest of the world.

Jochebed was Moses’ mother. She was one of God’s chosen people and more importantly a godly woman who stood with God and or her faith with courage.

Jochebed lived in a totally hostile environment – a slave, under subjugation who was forced without mercy to do bitter work. In the face of that she did not allow herself to surrender to hopelessness.

We would think the last straw came when Pharaoh ordered the killing of all of Israel’s first-born male infants. For Jochebed, that included her son Moses. Resistance would mean her death or a life in prison at best. But as a godly woman she was determined to resist and counter the evil pressures of Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s government, and anyone who went along with Pharaoh’s plan. She refused to go with the flow. She refused to consider her own life, comfort, convenience or safety. She refused to bow.

Jochebed, fearing God more than man, made a decision that, though it put her in great jeopardy, proved to be the decision that saved her nation. By seeking to preserve Moses’ life she saved Israel’s future lawgiver and the leader of the Exodus. She gave Moses everything she could during those first few months and then gave him up when she couldn’t hide him anymore. Certainly, after placing him afloat in the Nile she figured she’d never see him again, but she entrusted her child’s life and hers’ into God’s hands. She acted in faith and with courage and received back more than what she gave.

It was a mother’s love, faith and courage that saved her child from a cruel death and preserved him to bless the world. All godly moms do that. They trust in God and leave a legacy of faith and courage so that the world will be blessed in us.

Let us remember the godly women in our lives and be thankful for their example of faith and courage. More than that, let us live up to that faith and courage, and Jesus’ prayer for us, by our very lives.

Still on the early newsletter streak – one day early once again.

Be satisfied with what you have.” Our moms didn’t want us to be jealous or covetous of others. Instead they wanted to focus us on our blessings – what we have – and most especially on all that God has done and has in store for us. Good lessons for life of course given out of love. Don’t chase after empty things – focus on what is really important: faith in God Who brings all things to perfection. With Him we have family, community, true knowledge, and our work is blessed even if the world doesn’t see it. The explicit promise in our being “satisfied with what you have” is God’s provision for us. God will reach to the last grain of sand and the remotest star to bless us. I will never run away from you He promises. During this month we consider the depth of God’s provision. Even if the entire world has abandoned us, even if our mom were to reject us, God remains at our side.

Also in our newsletter, great thanks for support of our annual Basket Social, reflections and family prayers for the Year of Reverence, Mother’s Day and a very full month of activities. Check out our Holy Mass for healing, bible study, and so much more…

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

Who is really
welcome?

Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

Is the Holy Faith exclusive and unwelcoming? This is an important question and a challenge.
We know that Jesus sets forth what seems to be requirements for those who would follow Him, who would enter the kingdom. A lot of people think that makes up a list of requirements.

Let’s look at this a little deeper starting with an understanding of what requirements are. Going to the dictionary we find two ways of looking at the term: Requirement: a thing that is needed or wanted. Requirement: a thing that is compulsory or necessary.

Of course, if the Church were a social club we might have dues and membership requirements. If we were a sports club, we would have athletic skill requirements. If we were a music group, we would have talent requirements. We do not have any of those as Church.

Does the Church have things that are needed or wanted? Certainly, but that is not prerequisite. We do not screen based on needs or wants. Rather, we trust that whatever is wanted or needed will be provided. Does the Church have things that are compulsory? We might think baptism, the other sacraments, avoidance of sin. There too, they are not prerequisites. Rather, they are the means through which we grow deeper into relationship with God.

Requirements seem practical and organized. They seem to provide structure and can even be reassuring, but we would be very wrong in reducing God to a set of requirements: if you do x then you have a guaranteed ticket to heaven, paradise, etc.

Instead of requirements, Jesus spoke of love. Love changes our understanding. Love is never a response to requirements. Rather, love is a response to love. God didn’t wait for us to love him before He loved us. God’s love precedes and enables our love – He welcomes us. God then further responds to our love by entering into a unique, personal, intimate, affectionate, caring, and committed relationship welcoming those who respond to Him in love.

The thing to notice is that loving Jesus is not the same as keeping requirements (the Law as old Israel understood it). Love is an opening, a welcome. Love precedes and gives rise to a relationship that will last forever and out of which we seek to do what is asked of us: keeping the great commandment of loving God and each other. The call to feed, house, clothe, and visit.

For those who love and follow through on that love the promise awaits, the new, eternal and glorious heaven where we will live in love forever – totally welcome.

Living His
promises.

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”

Christians are sometimes referred to as ‘People of the Promise.’ The Easter Season is a wonderful time to focus on what that means.

Throughout Old Testament history we hear the promises made to Israel’s leaders. God made specific promises to Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses as well as others.

Abraham would have descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky. Jacob received a similar promise. Joseph had dreams that indicated his future ennoblement. He didn’t have direct assurance that it would happen, yet lived a life of patient endurance sustained by his belief in the promises of God made to his fathers. Even in the midst of struggles Joseph lived uprightly and he came to save his father, brothers, and his people. Moses received the promise of freedom in a land flowing with milk and honey.

These are but shadows and precursors to the ultimate promise that David would receive. God told him through the Prophet Nathan that his house and kingdom would endure forever and that his throne would be established forever.

In the coming of Jesus, the One who would did all in accord with His Father’s will we receive the finality of all of God’s promises. Jesus’ promises to us relate to the far future and to present life on earth. Some are conditioned upon our placing our faith in him and some on other conditions such as obedience, prayer, and humility.

John saw the promise of the kingdom, what it would really be like for the faithful. This isn’t a promise given to everyone, but to those who are the baptized faithful, the ones who stand strong in doing Jesus’ will. For those who, even in the struggle, keep their focus on God. We can rejoice in that promise. That beautiful kingdom, that New Jerusalem, is ours in the ages to come.

The key is to keep our eyes on the prize, on the promised Jerusalem (not the earthly one). Jesus left us with the command (one which can be a struggle). That is, we are to love one another as He loved us. It can be difficult at times, it can require will power and the courage to forgive – but in the end His promises are so well worth our effort.

Who is the
shepherd?

“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.” The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region.

In the Old Testament Israel is at the center of the stage. Everything we read about is focused on Israel. There is a similar focus in the New Testament. Jesus tells the Samaritan woman, “Salvation is from the Jews.” As he sent out the seventy-two to spread the Gospel He told them “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Yet there are examples throughout both the Old and New Testament of salvation and glory coming to those who were outside Israel. In God’s kingdom all found welcome. Those examples were given through strangers and outsiders who encountered God’s people – Israel. As such, we see Israel as being key to God’s salvific work. Israel, the nation that came from the loins of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was to be the light to the world. It was meant to show the way toward God.

John saw the great multitude that is to surround God’s throne. People from every nation, race, people, and tongue will be with God forever. How does that come about?

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” That is what He meant, that we have gifts and joy to share. Following Him does not mean that we remain mere sheep. As Israel was to step up and act as light and shepherd to the world – and fell short in doing so at Antioch – so we now have the chance and opportunity. Our destiny is laid out for us. Once we hear His voice, and allow it to touch us and change us, we follow in being His shepherds.

Jesus, of course, is our Chief Shepherd. He is the one we all follow. What we have to resolve to do is to be practical shepherds, spiritual leaders, and Christ following examples every day. We need to lead those who are lost and in need. We need to lead people to God, not by taking control from God, but by sharing His joy, the promise of eternal life.

In the Old Testament Israel was at the center of the stage. Someone still has to point people to God, has to offer them the gifts that we have been given. As New Testament people, people of the Gospel, let us be the ones to shepherd and spread His gifts around.