The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

This month we celebrate that Solemnity unique to our Holy Church, the Solemnity of Brotherly Love. I personally love being part of a Church that pays special attention to the idea of mutual love and care. This Solemnity didn’t just show up, nor was it established just to pay lip service to the concept of brotherly love. The Solemnity comes out of the real life experiences of our earliest founders. In 1906 a Special Holy Synod needed to be convened because events would call us to action. What to do in the face of words of hate, physical attacks, and widespread discrimination? The Holy Synod chose to do what was holy, what Jesus called us to do. The Holy Synod did not result in declarations of war, counter-plots, counter- attacks, or calls for discrimination and hatred toward attackers. The Holy Synod rather made a declaration of love. They resolved to love even in the face of hate, to love in the face of what we might disagree with, to love in the face of attack. We were not only to turn the other cheek, but to love and pray for our attackers. A man wanted to justify what he was doing, the way he chose to live, the words he chose to speak, (today, the postings he chose to make), so he asked Jesus: ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Jesus gave him a choice. We have choices to make just like that man did. Let us listen to Jesus and chose to love above all, to hold our words, and to act and speak in love no matter what is hurled at us.

So Much Happening. September is jam packed with events and opportunities. A special Holy Mass on Labor Day offered for the intention of all workers, organized labor, and worker justice. A prayer service in commemoration of the 19th Anniversary of 9/11/2001. The Solemnity of Brotherly Love. Back to Church Sunday where we take the time to invite and to recognize we are stronger together.

September’s Newsletter also covers the achievements of our youth in Music Scholarships and at the Kurs Camp. There is a reflection on the use of words – which have power to build up and to destroy, and a reflection on voting with an informed conscience. There is even a to-do list and … what if you were asked to spend 80 minutes?

Read about all it in our September 2020 Newsletter.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

I am hungry.

We previously considered so much to be a part of normal routine. Much of it now fades away, and rightly so. There are certainly things in normal routine that we have learned are not all that important. We have reprioritized our cares. For each of us, church may have been another ordinary routine. Now we cannot gather as we did. We, even the servers and musicians present with me, cannot receive at the table. The Fast of Lent has carried forward, for we are deprived of the Bread of Life, the Cup of Salvation. This is a hunger pain beyond comprehension. It hurts! Jesus pointed out that the hungry would be satisfied, that those of us who really get it and weep now (you know I am emotional, but now I tend to cry at the slightest thing), will laugh. The sacrifice carries on. The mystical union is not ended, it will not end. The bread is prepared. Feel the hunger and cry now in prayer knowing that we will be satisfied and laugh. He promised!

May is here. The world is different. Our newsletter contains helpful hints for remote participation in parish activities and words of hope and encouragement so needed. In May we honor the Blessed Virgin, our moms, continue our celebration of Easter, honor the members of our parish from the former Good Shepherd parish and receive a special gift from Holy Spirit parish. We look forward with hope and continue to be the faithful church both at home and together. Check out our plans for Memorial Day as well.

Read about all it in our May 2020 Newsletter.

Do you need to talk to someone? In this time of particular stress you may be experiencing depression, distress, disconnection, or anxiety. There are several confidential hotlines available to help:

The Family Counseling Center has implemented a Warm Line for those with anxiety, isolation, and other issues related to COVID-19. The phone number is 518-725-4310, ext. 333. The Warm Line will be operating from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you are a New York State resident and you need someone to talk to please call 844-863-9314. There are over 10,000 mental health professional who want to help. If you are not feeling OK, feel anxious, stressed, sad, or depressed please call.

The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Dearest brothers and sisters, 

On Wednesday, March 18, 2020 the active Bishops and Diocesan Administrators of the Holy Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) gathered to update guidance on the celebration of Holy Mass, devotions, and other events in parishes in light of the Covid-19 outbreak and more recent governmental guidance.

At this time the Most Rev. Dr. Anthony Mikovsky, Prime Bishop of the Polish National Catholic Church along with his fellow bishops and administrators has instructed that while Holy Mass shall continue to be celebrated, all parishioners are to remain at home joined in prayer with others at home. This will apply to the next two Sundays, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated with more information to come. 

The celebration of the Liturgy, Holy Mass will continue so that the Church will continue to pray for her people in the most perfect manner possible. In the Holy Mass all the baptized are joined together with Jesus’ eternity. Again, all parishioners shall remain at home and be joined in prayer with others at home during the Holy Mass.

Our parish will continue to LiveCast (broadcast) Holy Mass on Sundays at 9:30am as well as Lenten devotions on our Facebook page. Holy Mass will be rebroadcast on YouTube later on Sundays. The celebration of Holy Mass will also appear on the P.N.C.C. Facebook Page on Sundays and Holy Days.

Worship aids for each Sunday will be available on the P.N.C.C. website and on the P.N.C.C. Facebook Page, so that you can follow the liturgical prayers and readings of that particular Sunday.

Please read the Update to the Statement of the Polish National Catholic Church regarding COVID-19 posted today, March 19, 2020. 

Our primary duty, at this time, is to spiritually uplift each other through outreach and connection by cards, letters, telephone calls, and other means. We are to continue to do what we can for those most in need and who may be disconnected and in distress due to a lack of food or other necessities. Let us remain strong and united as Jesus’ family. Please, absolutely, feel free to contact Fr. Jim by telephone at any time. We can talk and pray together, or just share some time. My number is listed in the weekly bulletin and in our monthly newsletter.

We also beg your assistance in making your regular Sunday donations either by mailing your contributions to the parish or through our online donation process. This methodology is secure, encrypted, and legally compliant. Debit and credit cards are accepted.

We continue to pray: Lord God, Father Almighty, we ask that You grant quick recovery of those who are ill, grant health and safety to all, and grant the wisdom and light of the Holy Spirit upon scientists, researchers, medical professionals, and government officials, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, and our Great Physician. Amen.

On Friday, March 13, 2020 the active Bishops and Diocesan Administrators of the Holy Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) gathered to discuss the implications of the Covid-19 outbreak and a number of national events that will be taking place within the Holy Church. In making these decisions, consideration was given to the recommendations of the CDC and other local health agencies, the size of these events, the demographics of those attending and other factors.

The attached letter regarding the postponement or cancellation of PNCC National Events addresses the results of these discussions.

Attached too is a Statement concerning the current state of affairs in the Holy Church and Covid-19.

In short: As followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are all called to be people of care, compassion and community. This care must be for our own parishioners and also to extend beyond them to the needs of those around us. 

At the present time, the celebration of Holy Mass will continue in each parish. All parishioners are exempted from their obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. If they are sick, in vulnerable conditions (immunocompromised, in vulnerable risk groups), or even if they are concerned about the possibility of contracting the virus parishioners should stay at home. In any of these situations we encourage parishioners to stay at home and join with the congregation through the reading of the Word of God and prayer.

In our parish you may participate in Holy Mass on Sundays at 9:30am on Facebook. We also post our Holy Mass to YouTube later in the day on Sunday. Become a subscriber to be notified when video is posted to YouTube.

Bishop Hodur reminded the faithful that a Sunday should not go by without us being fed by the Word of God.

As Catholic Christians we are called to be compassionate and caring to all. Please support our parishioners and worshipers in the decisions that they make regarding their own health and show loving kindness in supporting and sustaining those who may be in need. Suggestions for mutual support and charity include care for the homebound and the delivery of needed supplies, telephone calls, online social gatherings, the sending of cards and letters. Continue especially to pray for our Church and for one another that our Lord may see us through these difficult and distressing times.

Prayer in Time of National Anxiety

I come to You, Lord, in this time of uncertainty and confusion that has gripped our nation. I pray that our leaders and representatives in government are filled with Your peace, strength and courage. May Your gifts of wisdom and understanding, fortitude and counsel be sought and utilized by them for the well-being of our country. By their belief and trust in You may they provide capable leadership, promote unity and peace, and be attentive to the concerns of our people. May Your Church provide support and comfort and help strengthen our hope for peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Come celebrate Black History Month with a return of the Black Diamond Performance Group to Schenectady, New York on stage at Holy Name of Jesus, 1040 Pearl St., Schenectady, NY. See this retrospective on Black Gospel Music starting at 4pm. Bring a canned or dry food offering as admission, which will be donated to a local charity. Feel free to also bring a dish to share with everyone for a potluck dinner. Come early! Celebrate!

So that I may make it clear, as it is right for me to do.

Watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve at the turn of the year and our entry into a new decade was interesting. The team running the show kept playing Barbara Walters, the former cohost of the news show 20/20, saying over and over: “This is 2020.” 20/20 has been on ABC since 1978. It was meant to present in-depth reporting on human interest stories. The name of the program was meant to denote clearness of vision, a goal of providing clear information for the show’s audience’s thinking. The verse above is from the end of Paul letter to the Church at Colossae. Paul was in prison at the time and he was asking for the Church’s prayers so that he might “proclaim the mystery of Christ” clearly and that the door might be opened “for our message.” As we begin this new year and decade it is opportune for us to focus on a message that is 20/20, a clear speaking and teaching on the message of Jesus, the mystery of His coming to earth, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and imminent return. We people of faith have been given a clearer vision and understanding of these things, what they mean for us in our life journey. We also have a clear task in front of us – to make what we know known. The world is a place of confusion and distraction. It is a place of shadows and unclear thinking. That’s just in everyday life. Think how much more confusing the message of sacrificial love found in the Gospel of Jesus is to the world; how hard it is to love as we should. These things are mystery, or foolishness, or even stupidity to those who do not know the power of Jesus’ clear message. So we must set to work. We are called to present in-depth reporting on the greatest human interest story of all time. We are to call people, by our teaching, words, prayer, and way of life to a clear vision of what life is, providing clear information for all around us to hear and follow. Paul’s prayer of purpose must be our prayer too. Lord, open the door for me so I may proclaim Your mystery clearly, 20/20.

January and celebrating through the entire forty day season of Christmas. We are gathering funds for SouperBowl Sunday, completing our clothing collections for those in need in our local community, and working together to reveal Him who binds up and re-ignites us. Music Scholarship Sunday is January 26th and applications for scholarships are now available. Learn about this year’s discipleship initiatives. Our Valentine’s Raffle is coming up, get your tickets now. We are prepping for our annual meeting. Above all, we are thankful for you.

Read about all this and a reflection on generosity in our January 2020 Newsletter.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Wholeness, completeness – words that present a sense of the ideal, and concepts that are so hard to live on a day-to-day basis. As a Church dedicated to scripture, and considering that we classify the proclamation and teaching of God’s word as a sacrament. let’s take a moment to consider the Bible. I remember classes from grade school on up – and the oft repeated question – what is the Bible? The expected, technical answer, which most kids got wrong? The Bible is a Book of Books. A Book of Books? Makes it seem as if the Bible is a kind of library, and indeed it could be considered that. However, my classmates and I would invariably get the ‘answer’ wrong, blurting out – “It is a book.” But what if we were right? My classmates and I were right because perhaps, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we were seeing the bigger picture, the completeness, the wholeness of scripture. All of scripture, from its inspired stories, histories, prophecies, and poetry in the Old Testament is one. It points invariably to the coming salvation found only in Jesus Christ. The Gospels give us Jesus in His complete revelation – the call to live life as He lived, the call to be a true sons and daughters of the Father as He is the Son of the Father. The invitation to accept Him as our Savior by confession of our sin and belief by faith. The remainder of the New Testament interprets the Gospel into keys for daily living within the wholeness of the Christian community. We dedicate the month of November to remembering our dearly departed. We have a lesson here. The wholeness and completeness of scripture is life’s model, who we are and where we are going. Life is not a series of separate stories and events, just a book of books, or unrelated chapters. Our life extends from birth to eternity. We are not just separate people and events. We live in a continuum that has, as its goal and end, life in the eternal wholeness and completeness of God Who holds all things together.

November and days of remembrance, days of honor and prayer, days of Thanksgiving. We have an active schedule throughout the month including the most important aspect of our life together – regular worship and fellowships that renews and strengths us for the totality of our life in Jesus.

Read more in our November 2019 Newsletter.

you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

What does it mean to be all-in with God? Throughout Church history we have confronted the problem of minimalism. It is the problem of just doing enough. It seems somewhat counterintuitive. If we love something or someone, we want to do more than we are even able. We stretch ourselves, we exceed our perceived boundaries, and reach for the stars for the one we love. Yet, not many do that with God or His community, the Holy Church. Priests would tell you that in hearing someone’s confession, there are two types of sorrow the penitent may have for the sake of absolution. They can have ‘attrition,’ that is a fear of punishment or they can have ‘contrition,’ a deep sorrow for having offended God, for having broken relationship with Him. While both qualify as adequate, attrition is minimalistic – only that which is absolutely, barely necessary. I remember being told as a teen the minimums required for Holy Mass. I could arrive and stay from the Gospel to Communion, and then leave. It was just enough. Some (and it rarely ever happens in our parish) use the bare minimum as their way of dealing with God and His community. Yet, a God who calls us to be all-in with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength will not look kindly on a love that is loafing or limping or lowest common denominator. His call to us is to live love deeply, wholly, and completely. Our own consciences call us to that truth. There is much for us to do as we enter the month of September. The Solemnity of Brotherly Love reminds us of Jesus’ all-in call to love God and neighbor. BACK TO CHURCH Sunday calls us to take action – to invite and build up the church with at least a 25% gain in active participation. This new season reminds us that we have the opportunity to renew our own faith and participation in God’s community to the maximum. Let us live that call and be all-in.

September is here and the calendar is full of events that bring us together and renew great friendships. We have the Solemnity of Brotherly Love, BACK TO CHURCH SUNDAY, and regular worship and fellowships that renews and strengths us for the journey together.

Come, be All-In together.

Read more in our September 2019 Newsletter.