Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

I see tons of advertising every day. Of course it comes through television and radio – old school advertising. Being so involved in life online between emails, social media, work and websites I feel inundated! Looking at something on Amazon is typically followed by months of emails and online targeted ads pushing that product I happened to stumble on. February 2nd brings the celebration of all advertising, the Super Bowl. I think more people watch for the ads than for the game. One of my clergy friends used to say that if he won the lottery we would all see an ad for our Church in the midst of the Super Bowl. I hope he wins really big because it now takes $5.6 million for a thirty second ad spot. Yesterday, I received another one of those Valentine’s Day ads coming through almost every minute. Its point: ‘It is not too late. Jim, you’ve still got time to pull off a great romantic dinner at one of the local spots that couples love.’ Well, I’m glad for that chance. We luckily already have a plan for that day. We worry about being too late all the time. Even St. Paul recalled sadly that he was one born untimely, too late, out of time as the least of the Apostles, and as one who had done wrong before that moment of conversion. He saw himself as diminutive and weakly. If St. Paul left it there, constantly worrying about being too late, we would only see a sad and pathetic figure. Instead, he finds confidence and reassures us in saying “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” In this ‘month of love’ and month that begins this year’s Great and Holy Lent, St. John reminds us that the message and trick in advertising – you’re going to miss out – is untrue. St. James and St. Paul both tell us that we cannot be too late. Our victory is assured because we believe in Jesus, the Son of God, and because His grace is alive in us to great effect.

February starts with a celebration of Jesus, Light of the World. We then enter the Pre-Lenten season of Septuagesima. The close of February takes us into the Great and Holy Lent. Light. Preparation, and reflection give us the opportunity to enter deeply into life with Jesus as His disciples.

Learn about February’s discipleship initiative. Celebrate Scout Sunday. Get together for adult religious education. Partake in our Valentine’s Raffle. Celebrate Black History Month with a special event focusing on historic Black Gospel Music on February 29th. All this and so much more!

Read about all this in our February 2020 Newsletter.

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.

We look forward to joining with you in worship and praise to our Savior manifest and returning. Remember, Christmas is a 40 day celebration!

  • December 24 – Christmas Vigil Holy Mass at 4pm
  • December 25 – Solemn High Holy Mass at Midnight (Pasterka) at 12am followed by a festive repast.
  • December 25 – Holy Mass of Christmas Day at 10am followed by a festive repast.
  • December 27 – Holy Mass with Blessing of Wine (bring yours to be blessed) on the Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist at 7pm.
  • December 29 – Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds. Holy Mass at 9:30am and 11:30am.
  • January 1 – Solemnity of the Circumcision of the Lord. Holy Mass at 10am.
  • January 2 – Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus (parish feast, odpust). Holy Mass at 7pm.
  • January 5: Solemnity of the Holy Family. Holy Mass at 9:30am and 11:30am.
  • January 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Holy Mass with blessing of chalk and incense at 7pm.
  • January 12: Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Holy Mass at 9:30am and 11:30am.

Peace.

Advent is here and Christmas is less than four weeks away. As we enter this season of expectation, thoughts turn to where we should be versus all the anxieties found in our daily life. As we enter this season and approach Christmas, let us consider peace. Peace is mentioned more than 429 times in the Bible. In the Bible, peace is taught as the Shalom of God. Being of God, Shalom, peace, encompasses many meanings including totality or completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security and well being. Shalom is an ordering of life ordained by God through creation and established with God’s people in the covenant. Shalom is a place of being where chaos cannot exist. Chaos is those things we all abhor – sickness, war, social strife, any violation of the covenant and God’s law of love. As we enter Advent, let us consider the place of peace in our lives. Where are we in terms of the totality or completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security and well being God desires for us? Where are we in relationship to Him and each other? Are we living His Shalom or are we enveloped by chaos? The Church presents Advent as that time to re-enter the Shalom of God. We have this short period of time, set aside – really separate – where we can retreat and pray, worship (communally in church), study (Biblical reading), fast, share (get rid of the excess we have), re-connect, and holistically enter into God’s peace. To do otherwise is to allow ourselves to slip into the abyss of chaos that is screaming around us. Jesus is inviting us into his peace. He is constantly doing that. He wants us to be prepared, settled, rested, and ready for His return, both symbolically at Christmas and in reality. As we stand before the manger, at Christmas, throughout its forty days, and thereafter, let us do so in peace.

December, Advent and the approaching Christmas season. So much going on – be part of it. We are reintroducing Candlelit Rorate Holy Masses every Wednesday in Advent at 7am. We have wafers/opłatek available for you to take home. We will bless and light the Advent wreath on December 1st, have our Vigil/Wigilia dinner on December 15th (come and partake) and the greening of the Church on December 22nd (come help decorate). We have our food and clothing collections ongoing for those in need in our local community. Of course a whole schedule of Holy Masses for Christmas, including a true Solemn Midnight Holy Mass, the blessing of wine on the Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist – and so much more.

Read about all this and a reflection on generosity in our December 2019 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.

In commemoration of St. Francis of Assisi, Holy Name of Jesus at 1040 Pearl Street, Schenectady, will hold a Blessing of the Pets on Sunday, October 6th at both 9:30am and 11:30am Holy Mass.

People often ask: Is it ok to bring my pet to church with me? Can they actually come in the church? Our answer is YES! You Can. Yes! They can.

Bring your pet (dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, birds, fish, ferrets, turtles, lizards, any beloved animal) with you to Holy Mass or a special St. Francis blessing. They will be blessed individually as part of a special service that honor God’s creation and also recalls those beloved pets we may have lost.

Blessed are you, Lord God, Maker of all living creatures, On the fifth and sixth days of creation you called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all animals his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless these animals. By the power of your love enable them to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.

If you wish, bring a pet food or treat to donate. They will be donated to a local humane rescue shelter.

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.

As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee

Jesus spent a lot of time along the shore. St. Mark’s gospel practically starts with Jesus walking along the shore. Jesus preached by the shore, walked from the shore out to the boat, across the water, and appears on the shore, seaside, after His resurrection. The well known poem, ‘Footprints in the Sand’ speaks of Jesus walking with us along the shore of our life, beside us at times, carrying us at others. All of these references to the shore, and we never see any references to snow or cold throughout Jesus’ ministry. Sure, there was the storm on the sea, but Jesus took care of that. No cold because there is none in God. As we enter the fullness of the summer months, we find yet again, Jesus with us at the shore. We recognize that Jesus doesn’t hang back at home while we head out to the shore. He is ready, and very much happy to go along. After all, the seaside town of Capernaum was His base (ok, enough, I see that Jesus loved the shore and the sea). Wherever we may go this summer, the message isn’t about Jesus’ love of tourist destinations or those quiet secluded places only we and a few of our friends know about, but rather about what Jesus accomplishes wherever He may be. Jesus loved these places, the shore especially, not because He liked to hang out and soak up rays, but because – the key – that’s where the people were. Jesus came to bring a powerful message – The kingdom is at hand, it is about to break open with a sunlight and freedom you have never known, and when it opens, I want you to be ready to enter. Jesus came to bring that message to everyone. We all have access. The lovely song, Lord, You Have Come To The Seashore/Pescador de Hombres/Barka makes the point. He came to seek, to call, to proclaim. Having done so, He expects us to take up with Him, at the shore, anywhere we go, and say: at Your side, I will seek other shores. Let us seek those shores – the opportunity to make Jesus known everywhere.

Summer is here and the calendar is full of the fun, relaxing, family activities that will live on as fond memories and great friendships. We have our annual church-wide Summer camp and celebrate the camp’s 90th anniversary. There’s golf, music, a picnic (everyone is invited), a wedding shower, a free play, prayers for our country, and a few preparatory items for those far off – after Labor Day – activities.

Don’t rush it. Enjoy it! …and hang with Jesus at the shore.

Read more in our July/August 2019 Newsletter.

Jesus’ disciples gathered around him, and he taught them: I tell you not to worry…

Matthew 6:25

I believe we often wonder whether Jesus is really speaking to us. Are those particular words meant for me? The answer is always yes, and reflecting on our passage for this month, we can certainly see how it applies to us. Jesus’ friends and followers got together, and He COMMANDED them: Chill out! Indeed, Matthew 6:25, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, is a direct command from Jesus to His followers. His language was not a suggestion or a recommendation, or an option. If you are following me, you need to relax, chill out, throw out all fear and anxiety. If we experience God, church, family, and everyday life from a perspective of fear and anxiety we are missing the blessings of a true relationship with Jesus and each other. Instead of living in Jesus – life to the fullest – we are just functioning and killing ourselves. Fear, worry and anxiety are a wall, a thick, high, deep, and strong wall that blocks the way between me and Jesus. We look at those walls, and our instinct is not to break through the wall, after all. who am I? Rather, we start immediately to make the wall bigger, stronger, higher, and deeper. We forget the dynamite we really have. The power we have is faith as small as a mustard seed. Go to the local supermarket or spice store. Find a jar of mustard seed, and look how small those seeds are. Buy that jar, and then go find a big ‘ol wall – a brick or stone one, and take one of those seeds. just one, and throw it at the wall. In our minds and hearts, see that wall explode and fall. That’s the power we have in Jesus. That is the order He has given us. With the simplest of faith, the least amount of faith, the wall of fear, worry and anxiety is destroyed. When we come to church, let us use the opportunity to stand up and follow Jesus’ order. He’s speaking to us. Destroy the wall. Relax the shoulders, throw out the obligation, and step over the broken parts of that wall. See Jesus for real, no fear.

Join us in June for the fullness of the Holy Spirit experience. Confirmation and Installation, Father’s Day BBQ, all done in a chill out manner with faith in Jesus who overcomes all. Plus check out all the great upcoming national and local events now and throughout the summer.

Read more in our June 2019 Newsletter.

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

Mary spoke seven times as recorded by scripture. While I am sure she spoke more than that, that is all that is recorded. In those seven moments (depending on the Bible translation), Mary spoke a grand total of 189 words. Of the 189 words, 180 were spoken before Jesus was born and through His childhood. Only 9 were spoken when He was an adult, and only as a precursor to His launching His ministry. We tend to place a lot of emphasis on words, and perhaps not enough on action. However, the action is where it is at. That’s where we want to be, taking part in what’s happening. The Magnificat – a fancy way of saying Mary’s Prayer – gives us an example of one who really wants to be part of the action. Mary is proclaiming how her very being, her soul and spirit, are intent on magnifying and rejoicing in the Lord. She is throwing her whole self into God’s way of living, God’s way of being, God’s way of changing everything. She saying – I just don’t want to be part of that, I am fully in, onboard. Throughout the rest of scripture, we occasionally meet Mary. She is there as her Son ministers, she is along the Way of the Cross, at the foot of the Cross, a witness to His burial, and with the disciples on Pentecost. She made herself all-in. She did this by her service, by her willingness to follow, by her letting her Son’s precious words and actions shine forth. As we enter the month of May, Mary’s month, recall that the Holy Church sets her example forth not as some long ago tale, as some stale devotion, or as words for the sake of words, but so we may live her engagement as a disciple. Mary did not sit back and let words come before her action of magnifying and rejoicing in the Lord. This May, as we mow, tend to new blooming gardens, and honor mom, let us redouble our action and engagement, placing our whole selves into Jesus work, like Mary.

Join us in May for the fullness of the Easter Season, great national and local events now and throughout the summer, special thanks, and lots of great fellowship right here in Schenectady.

Read more in our May 2019 Newsletter.