Fed by what is
simple.

Brothers and sisters, I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you…

A little girl asked her mother, “Why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?” Her mother told her that she thought the meat absorbed the spices better if you did that. “Maybe check with grandpa, because he taught me to cook.” The little girl went to her grandfather and asked the same question. He told her that he believed the meat absorbed cooking juices better if you cut the ends off. “It keeps the meat tender.” He told her that to be really sure she should ask her great-grandmother because she taught him to cook.

The little girl, determined to know why, went ahead and called great-grandma and asked her the same question. Great-grandma told her very simply, “My cooking pot was too small.” Simple answers.

Some of us are newer to the communion table and others have been approaching for years. We seem to all have our reasons and understandings.

We could go into a long theological discussion on the Eucharistic moment, and our encounter with the Divine in communion. We could consider the Church as a single body fed by the Lord. Those are great lines of thought that should be pursued as time and prayer allow. But there is something much simpler.

We can liken God to the deepest lake or the highest mountain. Just by gazing and encountering Him, standing in His presence, we instinctively know and feel His majesty. God speaks to our hearts by His mere presence. We are here in His house, in His presence in a very special way, and we can simply know that we are with Him. That is beautiful, but there is more.

A theologian or philosopher would want to not only scale the mountain or dive into lake, they would want to explore its every nook and cranny. That is wonderful, but we don’t have to go that far. God provides an answer.

The wonderful thing about God is that He is not wiling to just be looked at. He wants a full-on encounter with us at the deepest level. While some of us might be uncomfortable climbing a mountain or diving into a lake to experience it full on, God does not wait for us to do so. He brings the refreshment of the lake, the depth of His love and care, and the majesty of His being and goodness right into our lives. He does not stand apart, separated from us. He is with us.

God answers our most basic need – to be fed, to be strengthened, to be made complete, and to fully experience Him. He comes to us in the Eucharistic moment – giving us His eternity – for which we proclaim our thanks and then He simply feeds our every need. He is simply and completely with us.

Lift high
the Cross.

They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.

Lift High the Cross was composed in 1916 by Sydney H. Nicholson. The lyrics used in the hymn were written in 1887. The scriptural theme is John 12:32 where Jesus says: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Regardless of the season, the cross calls us to continual reflection. It was a place of such gruesome punishment for Jesus. Yet it is also a place of glory–where death and sin were conquered forever. On this day we remember in the most particular and special way the victory of Christ over death. We rejoice in our newfound freedom and the promise of paradise reopened to us. What a profound impact this cross has had on our lives. The cross, once a symbol of horror, is now the gateway to salvation. In the baptismal rite, which we are celebrating today, we place the sign of the cross on heart and forehead of the one to be baptized. They then are called to take ownership of the cross and of its promise. Let us recognize its power in our lives.

This hymn has five verses. Let’s reflect a moment on a few of them.

Come, brethren follow where our Savior trod, Our King victorious, Christ, the Son of God. We are called to follow Jesus, to walk His way, to live as He lived in complete dedication to the Father’s will for us.

Led on their way by this triumphant sign, The hosts of God in conqu’ring ranks combine. We conquer in the cross. This isn’t conquering in worldly terms, but in eternal terms. The cross is the sign of hope and victory. We wear this sign of victory on our bodies and in our hearts as a result of our baptism.

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree, As thou hast promised, draw men unto thee. The cross is a draw for all people. There is no distinction or differentiation because we all are made part of His one body.

Thy kingdom come, that earth’s despair may cease, Beneath the shadow of its healing peace. The great promise of those who live in the cross is freedom, release, and perfect healing. All that separates us and hold us back is removed.

The hymn also carries a message of baptismal action and outreach. It calls us to “lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim” so that the whole world will hear of what Jesus has done to free us.

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.

Great gifts and
promises.

“Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!”

Today we celebrate a very special day in the life of our parish and the Holy Church. Two young people will receive from the Table of the Lord for the first time. Our readings and Gospel discuss the importance of receiving from the Lord.

God is so gracious to us and in His infinite graciousness He has set forth gifts and promises we can take hold of.

God saw that Moses needed help in leading the people. He asked Moses to assemble seventy worthy elders. God took some of the spirit that He had given to Moses and bestowed it on those elders. This was an incredible gift. God’s spirit of prophesy, leadership, and authority that He had given to Moses would now be shared with more people. These elders, including the ones who had not gone to the meeting tent, received God’s spirit. They immediately acted on it. They began prophesying in the camp. God shares His gifts with those He has chosen so they can do His work.

In our Gospel the apostles hear of people doing wondrous things in Jesus’ name. They got concerned and John came to Jesus saying: “we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”

Jesus knew that His gifts were for all who believed in Him. As such, we too are empowered with His gifts to do marvelous things.

Paul shows us that the opposite is true of those who place their trust and belief in the world – in power, money, and things… Those things will rot away and they will devour those who have put their trust in them. If we are misled we will have no real power. We will miss out on God’s gifts and promises. Imagine the greatest treasure we could possibly obtain and we walk by it to get a plastic replica.

Eden and Erickaa receive from the Table of the Lord for the first time. In doing so they accept the greatest gift a person could ever hold – a treasure not made of gold – a treasure made just for us. Jesus!

We have Jesus. The greatest gift ever. In receiving Him we hold within ourselves the fullness of His graciousness and promises. We are joined all together in His greatest gift.

His gift is His promise. We have true life, real life, great power, and a gift that will never fade or rot away – all in Him. We have life forever and His power. Let us live always as faithful and thankful receivers of His gifts and promises.

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Our Holy Church sets the month of June aside and encourages the faithful to pray for the clergy of our Holy Church and for an increase of vocations. We also remember those who spent their lives serving God and His people, being now retired and in need of our financial support.

The life of service within the Church is not without its occasional difficulties, but instead of focusing on temporary and occasional drawbacks, men who respond to Jesus’ call are strong, determined, brave, and faithful.

Are you ready to respond to God’s call, do you feel the support of family, friends, and a community praying for you? Now is the time to explore the possibilities of a life in the ministry of the Church. Whether you are married or single, a recent graduate, or on your second or third career, the Church encourages you to “Come and See”.

To find out more about vocations to the diaconate and the priesthood, please contact the Savonarola Theological Seminary of the Polish National Catholic Church, 1031 Cedar Ave, Scranton, PA 18505. School, (570) 961-9288, Office, (570) 343-0100.

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I believe in
—— ——

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. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

The words at the very top of this reflection “I believe in —— ——” are the same as last Sunday.

These two weeks are about core-required beliefs for the Christian man, woman, and child. Last week it was about the identity of God, We believe in One God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This week it is about the bread and wine we offer as a community. What is that bread and wine when we consume it while kneeling at the altar rail?

Jesus assured us on many occasions that we would eat His flesh and drink His blood. This wasn’t something He came up with on the night of the Last Supper. This is His purposeful gift.

In His discourse with His disciples He said: This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Jesus knew very well that many would not accept this. For Jews consuming blood is not Kosher at all nor is eating human flesh. We have confirmation of this because shortly thereafter many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.

This dialog happened shortly after Jesus fed the multitude. They wanted to make Him their king because of His miracles. A day or so later He was almost alone.

So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

This is our test. Do we stay or go? Jesus’ way, His teachings, everything about Him including the faith we must have to proclaim these core beliefs about His identity and the gift He has given us are not easy. When we kneel, what are we kneeling to? What is this bread and wine? If we believe in Him and the reality of His gift, let us kneel and proclaim I believe! I receive You!

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On Monday, May 18th we will hold our first Holy Mass for Healing with Anointing of the Sick at 6:15pm. We expect to hold this Holy Mass at least once a month. We welcome all to take part. The Sacrament of Anointing is for all who seek the Lord’s healing, whether due to physical or mental distress, temporary or chronic disease, or for other reasons. All are welcome to attend.

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We have true
victory in Jesus.

For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Who is the winner? That is a frequent question in our world. It is also a great worry. We see greater and greater disparity between the rich and the poor. We see working people’s wages remaining the same year-after-year while the very few get more and more. Many may feel like David did at his darkest hour. He recounts in Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? 
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Jesus knew His followers might feel the world winning, evil overcoming good, especially at His trial and crucifixion. That is why in the hours before His arrest He reclined with them at table and taught them. He said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He wanted us to share the peace His victory would win.

John echoes the words he heard Jesus speak at the Last Supper telling us that we are now God’s children, begotten and adopted in the blood of Jesus and fellow conquerors by our faith in Him. We have the strongest of affirmations, that no other person is the conqueror of the world but Jesus. We fully share in that victory by faith. No sports star relying solely on his or her physical abilities is a true conqueror; no rich man or woman relying on their skills and abilities in worldly things alone is a true winner. Wealth, wins, being in the 1% is not mark of real victory, only belief that Jesus is the Son of God and trusting in Him as the only source of life, righteousness, and salvation. The world with its allures and false promises for victory has been overcome.

Today, Heather and Alyson make a decision to believe in and trust in Jesus, to be on the winning team, to be victors in Jesus Christ. Because of this decision they will be regenerated, will be born again and made new in the image of Jesus. They will share in His life and by living in a constancy of faith they will overcome death and conquer the world. They, like Thomas, will say before the world that Jesus is their Lord and God and in reply will hear the words Jesus spoke in today’s gospel being applied to them as it is to us: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Blessed and victorious!

Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Advent and Confirmation

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Called to make the
Good News known

Brothers and sisters: To him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus Christ has given us His Gospel – that is the Good News necessary for us to recognize the truth of salvation. This Good News tells us two things: God desires a relationship with us, that He wants to be more than just part of our lives, but in total union with us throughout our lives; and that He loves us so much that He was willing and did sacrifice Himself to make that love and unity real forever. Truly, He came to both preach the Good News and deliver its promise.

As Claudia, Justyne, and Adam complete the sacrament of Baptism-Confirmation with their reception of Confirmation today, they acknowledge and accept as adults what St. Paul tells us: Our redemption and salvation brought about by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, are without controversy. They are true facts that they fully accept and believe in. Claudia, Justyne, and Adam take up the challenge to proclaim this Good News in an adult way. They stand before us in potential and will clearly state: Yes, this is what I want to do. I know that Jesus did this for me, for my family in the faith, and I want to invite all I meet and know to also accept this Good News.

Their potential must now come to realization. They are like bread dough. The Holy Spirit and our family in the faith have filled them with the yeast of the Good News. This has been and remains the yeast of knowing, loving and serving the Lord and each other. But if this dough remains unbaked it will spoil. The baking will come through their witness to Jesus Christ in His Holy Church and in the community. They will face trials (the baking) – for the world either ignores or hates the Good News. The Good News gets in the way of self-centered lives. It requires submission and obedience. We cannot go our own way, we must be obedient and go the way God intends in order to share in the Good News. We must become one in the great family of faith, not just in our minds and homes, but also in Church and on the street.

God’s mystery has been made known to us. This is not just the word of prophets and preachers, but the very Word of God come among us. Today Claudia, Justyne, and Adam are anointed to make the Good News known to all they meet. Christ is salvation to all who believe. Come share in Him.

Advent and Christmas Holy Mass and Event Schedule

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Keeping Advent and the forty days of Christmas at your neighborhood church. All are welcome to join in prayer and celebration as we come to know, love, and serve the Lord and each other. He came to give us abundant life!

Advent

  • December 14: 3rd Sunday of 
 Advent: Holy Mass at 9:30 am. Parish Vigil Pot-luck dinner and Youth Christmas Performance
  • December 21: 4th Sunday of 
 Advent: Holy Mass and Confirmation at 9:30am. Greening of the Church and Free Lunch on Sunday

Christmas

  • December 24: Vigil of the Nativity
  • December 25: Nativity of the Lord, Holy Mass at Midnight and Morning Holy Mass at 10:30am. Festive Repast follows each Holy Mass
  • December 26: Feast – St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr
  • December 27: Feast – St. John, Apostle & Evangelist. Holy Mass at 5pm with the Blessing of Wine
  • December 28: Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds. Holy Mass at 9:30am
  • December 31: New Year’s Eve
  • January 1: Solemnity of the Circumcision. Holy Mass at 9:30am. Happy 2015
  • January 2: Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus. Holy Mass at 7pm
  • January 4: Feast of the Holy Family. Holy Mass at 9:30am
  • January 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. Holy Mass with blessing of chalk, charcoal, and incense at 7pm.
  • January 11: Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Holy Mass at 9:30am