This week’s memory verse: Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. — Psalm 100:3

  • 4/22 – Luke 15:4
  • 4/23 – Psalm 23:1
  • 4/24 – Micah 2:12
  • 4/25 – Psalm 119:176
  • 4/26 – 1 Peter 2:25
  • 4/27 – Hebrews 13:20-21
  • 4/28 – Revelation 7:17

Pray the week: Lord, Great Shepherd, as You have carried me, grant that I may carry all those I encounter into your flock.

Who carries
who?

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

The image of the Good Shepherd is one of the earliest Christian images and one of the most popular even to this day.

Early Christian images were often symbolic. This was due to the need to be discreet in a world where Christians were often viewed with suspicion at best and persecuted, even to death, at worst. The image summoned up by the words of Jesus, “I am the good shepherd.”

The image of the Good Shepherd often depicts Jesus carrying the lost sheep on His shoulders, bringing the lost back. The image is evocative of the power and strength of Jesus as well as of His care and concern for each of the sheep. We see Him going off among the brambles and thorns, the rocks and cliffs, among the wolves and other dangers, letting nothing stop Him from His mission of care, His rescue.

As Christians, we have the same call, but it can be muffled by our dual personality.

The call is to be imitators of the Good Shepherd. W e are to live up to our responsibility to search for the lost. How many do we know that have lost their relationship or have a broken relationship with Jesus – we need to seek them out and bring them back. Jesus gives us the grace to have the same strength He has, so we can go among the brambles, thorns, rocks, cliffs, wolves and other dangers of this world to bring them back. As He carried us back or into the fold, we are to carry others back or into the fold.

Our dual personality is such, that while we are His sheep, we too go astray at times. Our call can be muffled by the sinful attraction of the world. It is in those moments that we may have confidence that Jesus will not leave us alone and abandoned in the wild. Jesus will marshal all His resources, graces, and people to bring us back. As we carry others back, Jesus carries us.

There are great temptations and sadness, seemingly impossible obstacles in our journey with Jesus’ flock. Yet we have great power in Jesus and the strong shoulders of a great God. It is time to have confidence; it is time to work out our shoulders in scripture, prayer, and the grace of sacramental encounter. The question is not who carries who, but the confidence that that Jesus carries us and we are strong to carry each other.

This week’s memory verse: Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! — 2 Corinthians 9:15

  • 4/15 – James 1:17
  • 4/16 – Romans 6:23
  • 4/17 – 1 Timothy 4:14
  • 4/18 – Ephesians 2:8-9
  • 4/19 – Ephesians 4:8
  • 4/20 – 1 Peter 4:10
  • 4/21 – Romans 11:29

Pray the week: Lord, You have lavished the gift of forgiveness on me. Grant that I may share the tremendous gift.

We have a gift
to deliver.

He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

Beside ourselves, who are the sinners we know? Who are the least of sinners, who are the worst?

Our minds might have wandered to that person who had annoyed us, the one who treated us badly, the one who cut us off in traffic. Perhaps our minds dwell on ourselves, how we fall short.

It is probably best to start with ourselves. There is an old story about a person who went to confession after many, many, years. They sat down with the priest and said ‘I haven’t been to confession in years.’ The priest asks: ‘So my child, what sins do you have to confess?’ The person said: ‘Well, I really don’t have any.’ The priest looks up, takes off his glasses, and said: Well now you do, for St. John tells us: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us.” In other words child, you just lied a big lie.

Frankly, as St. Paul instructed the Church at Rome: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Knowing this, we know we have a real problem, and it is not the problem our minds go to.

Who here is forgetful? I know that I am getting more and more forgetful. Without a calendar filled with appointments, I just might not be where I need to be. Thankfully I have a loving wife and a great secretary who keep me on track. I forget stuff at home and leave things behind. Then I have to figure out where I left it. Is it in the car, on my desk, on the kitchen table? Did you ever go to a party and forget the gift you were supposed to bring?

Today, Jesus reminds us that sin and forgetfulness go hand in hand. Being forgetful isn’t sin, but forgetting what we are about is.

The problem is that we are quick to count sin and offense, either our own or that of others. Every person, even those worst at math, deserves a degree in accounting. We can add up sins with real expertise. Yes, all have fallen short. So we can leave that message to scripture. The part of scripture, the gift we forget is what Jesus says today (and every day). We need to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins. We are to be witnesses of these things.” We have a gift to give and it isn’t our ability to count! Our gift is word of Jesus’s redemption. Through Him all who confess are free.

Memory verse for the week: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. — Psalm 51:12

  • 4/8 – Isaiah 61:7
  • 4/9 – Job 42:10
  • 4/10 – Acts 3:19-21
  • 4/11 – 1 Peter 5:10
  • 4/12 – Jeremiah 32:27
  • 4/13 – Galatians 6:1
  • 4/14 – John 10:10

Pray the week: Lord, You came to restore us. Make me new each day. Refresh and renew faith and love in me by your Spirit.

All we need is
faith and love!

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.

We were looking through the closet in our office at home – a closet that has been changed into a set of storage shelves. We were looking for bags and ribbon for our basket social baskets – ribbons found, no bags. A trip to Michael’s and all set.

While looking through the closet I came across a lovely table runner from Poland. It is intricately woven together. That is what today is all about.

The community to whom First John was written was facing a crisis. Former members were denying that Jesus was God’s flesh and blood Son, fully human and fully God. Like many churches facing doctrinal conflict, the community was confused, afraid, and unsure of what to do. Who should they believe? How could they know what was true, and what was not? How should they react? Their closely woven life of faith and love was coming undone.

John’s response in a lesson to the community was both simple and confident: You know who you are – the faithful. You know whose you are – you are God’s. You know what you have been told from the beginning – love God, love the brethren, and keep God’s commandments. God’s own Spirit is with us to show us the way forward. There’s no need for confusion, anxiety, or fear. Focus on living your faith woven together in unity and love.

John echoes Jesus’ conversation with his disciples on the night before his death: “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them;” and “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”

Loving God, loving God’s children, and keeping God’s commandments are all an inseparable part of our life in Christ. They are links in the chain of faith. We live in an interwoven reality that is the Church of God – the basic principles of Christianity. Like that beautiful table runner, every thread is linked together into something beautiful; something that gives joy and that makes love strong and real.

In today’s Gospel we have all the markers from the First John community. Perhaps the first display of fear and anxiety in the Christian community. Jesus settled the Apostles crises quickly. Yet the Apostle Thomas was missing. He was the one thread missing. He exhibits some aggressive non-belief. His thread was not just unraveled, but frayed and nearly broken. We get that way. The comfort is that Jesus returns for him as He returns for us – Jesus won’t let us stay unraveled. Easter is to live restored, interwoven, and unbroken.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us

April first and we are at Easter. The wonderful thing about this timing is how it all coincides and works together to represent a restart. A new month, a new day, a renewal of our Easter life – if we are willing to take Him up. The passage above from Titus 3:3-4 compares and contrasts what we once were, before Jesus, and what we can become – if we chose Him. St. Paul points out that people were foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hating one another. Paul in writing to Titus had recognized what the world was like. But rather than staying focused on what was wrong with the world, Paul is pointing out how much has changed because of Jesus. Jesus has restarted the world, He has renewed, regenerated, and re-energized the lives of those who choose to believe and are faithful to Him. The key to Paul’s writing is instruction on how life is to be lived. The life we can take up post-Easter is completely different than the life we had before. It is fresh, washed clean, and a call to continued faithfulness. The Easter life can be dangerous and demanding. Easter witness collides with the powers of “the age” that want us to stay stuck in old unredeemed ways. Worldly powers want us to chose a replay or repeat of yesterday – not an encounter with the new day of Jesus. Instead, if we chose Easter living we gain a new saved existence of joy and well-being. We join to build community in worship and work. We reach out to draw-in all who desire to set aside yesterday for today and tomorrow. Will we give up what we know, what we are comfortable with, for a new saved life? The crucified, buried, and resurrected Lord’s offer is so much better. His goodness and loving kindness is for us. Let us take Him up on Easter and leave yesterday behind.

Join us for the Easter Season. A wonderful time of joyful service in our Holy Church. Our Amazing Basket Social is Sunday, April 15th starting at noon at the Rotterdam Senior Citizens Center. Come out and bid on some really amazing (and valuable) baskets.

Our schedule is really filling up. Throughout Spring and into the summer months we are going to be so busy. Be part of it. Events include:

  • The Eighteenth Annual National Mission and Evangelism Conference, April 27th through 29th at All Saints Parish, Carnegie, PA.
  • Men’s Spiritual Retreat sponsored by the National YMS of R from May 17th through 19th in Walmart, PA. More information here.
  • Gospel Concert at Holy Name, Saturday, May 19th from 2-5pm. Come out and praise!
  • The 73rd Annual National Bowling Tournament will be held In Waymart, PA from June 8th through 10th. Check out YMSofR Bowl for registration documents and information.
  • Kurs Encampment being held June 30th through July 7th at the Bishop Hour Retreat and recreation Center in Waymart, PA. This year’s fun theme is “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Sign up forms are available here.
  • Convo 2018 will be held on the campus of The University of Scranton in Scranton, PA, July 23rd through July 27th. This year’s theme is “Anointed Lifeguards.” Application forms are due by May 20th for a discounted price. Registration forms and more information is available here.
  • The United Y.M.S. of R. 4th Annual Golf Outing will be hosted by Y.M.S. of R. Branch 20 at Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral, Lancaster, NY. The golf outing will be held on August 18th.
  • The XXV Holy Synod of the Polish National Catholic Church, will be held within the Western Diocese of the Polish National Catholic Church.  The dates and site of the XXV General Synod have been set by the Western Diocese as October 1-3, 2018 at Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL, nine miles from St. Louis, MO.

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

This week’s memory verse: Who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself. — Philippians 3:21

  • 4/1 – John 11:25-26
  • 4/2 – 2 Corinthians 5:8
  • 4/3 – 1 Corinthians 15:22
  • 4/4 – John 3:16
  • 4/5 – Matthew 28:2
  • 4/6 – 2 Timothy 1:10
  • 4/7 – 1 Corinthians 15:43

Pray the week: Lord, You have risen from the tomb and abolished death. Draw me ever closer to You in this life so that I may have life with You eternally.

The stone is
gone.

Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.

Searching back through scripture we come to the various encounters between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. There are thirty-eight verses that refer to her.

Some consider her the prostitute who was going to be stoned by the crowd until Jesus intervened. Some believe she is the woman that anointed Jesus at the house of Simon the Leper, or the one who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, anointed them, and dried them with her hair.

While those women were not given a specific name, we do know from scripture that Jesus, specifically, saved her. Luke 8:1-3 is that reference to her: Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out.

Mary comes to the tomb, early in the morning and finds the stone is gone. What a beautiful scriptural testimony to what Jesus has accomplished for her and for us; the stone is removed.

We face many trials and tribulations in our lives. The world is filled with stones that stand in the way of true joy and happiness. When we face these things, when the stones of our existence confront us, we are called to remember this moment of our salvation.

Mary is our example, standing before the removed stone. She is, at first, filled with questions and wonder, and then it hits. The alternate Gospel, for this morning, taken from Mark, adds detail: On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter.

She runs off to the Apostles. She begins to tell of it as she had been directed. She now connects fully to the removed stone.

We have a story to tell. We, the Christian faithful, have experienced the removal of our stones. By His death and resurrection, whatever stood in our way to eternal glory has been removed. Spread the joy!

Will we run across stones and confront roadblocks and obstacles? Most certainly! When we do, recall this most sacred moment, this day of indescribable joy. Whatever we confront can be climbed, and surmounted. Jesus has destroyed and overcome all stones. Alleluia! He is risen!

Please join us and walk with Jesus throughout Holy Week, particularly during the Sacred Triduum (the three days between the Last Supper and Jesus’ Resurrection). Then join us as we celebrate our Easter joy. Our schedule as follows:

  • Maundy Thursday, March 29th – Reception of Oils, Holy Mass, Procession to the Altar of Repose, Stripping of the Altars at 7pm.
  • Good Friday, March 30th – Cross walk at 11:30am, Bitter Lamentations at 3pm, Liturgy of the Presanctified and Opening of the tomb at 7pm.
  • Holy Saturday, March 31st – Liturgy of New Fire. Renew Your Baptismal Vow. Blessing of Easter Baskets, 4pm.
  • Solemnity of the Resurrection/Easter, April 1 – Procession and Solemn High Holy Mass at 8am and Holy Mass at 10am. Easter repast after each Holy Mass.

Please remember the Church’s requirements for Lent Holy week requires fasting and abstaining from meats from Wednesday, March 28th through Saturday, March 31st.