Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

We can get caught up in the two ends of the spectrum that are part of every faithful Christian’s life. We either experience great joy, the uplifting graces of the Holy Spirit poured out on us, or we end up on the road to martyrdom. Is that all there is to the Christian life? Really, the struggle in a Christian’s life is that we live much of it in the middle. In considering our lives, lived in the middle, we may ask: How do I sacrifice what I want for what God wants? How do I proclaim God’s truth when the world, even my family, will hate me? How can I face day-to-day life with faithfulness? Those questions plague us – but thanks be to God, He offers us a way forward by example. Of course, Jesus stands first and foremost as one who came from the middle boldly. He proclaimed truth, to those, like us, who were in the middle, who faced daily challenges of faithfulness. He offered real truth that took them from the middle to the heights of heaven. He gave them strength for their ordinary lives because the promise was oh so much more. Yes, the popular folks rejected Him, but the Father welcomed Him. This is our hope. This month we look to the example of Mary. Talk about lives in the middle. Plain, ordinary folks like us – struggling day to day with ridicule, mockery, and exile. Mary, referred to by her community as worse than a prostitute. Joseph, seen as not man enough. Jesus – an illegitimate child. They faced the worst kind of ridicule and rejection, yet lived lives in the middle, working day-to-day, faithful to God at the deepest of levels. Their struggles, much like ours. They answer the essential question: How do I get by faithfully? As we live in the middle, let us look to their example, courage, and to God’s unfailing help. Let us count our ordinary struggles and our lives in the middle as a joy in Jesus.

So much going on. The first ever Gospel Concert at HNJ on May 19th at 2pm. Come out and experience 18 performers – song, dance, poetry, stories, and more… A lunch will be served as well. Bring mom and pray for her. Honor all the special women in our lives – wives, daughters, moms, grandmothers, godmothers, aunts, partners… We will have a special breakfast in their honor. We celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension on the actual day – Thursday, May 10th – no switching things around here. Check out our Men’s Spiritual Retreat, sign up for summer youth events, we honor those served and gave their lives for our country on Memorial Day. Oh, and Why Not Communion in the Hand – check out our article and more…

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

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.

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.

Why so
long?

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.

Father, why is he gospel so long?

Jesus was sent to earth as a man. As the Gospel of St. John tells us, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word dwelt among us. The Word lives with us. Jesus, who is God’s Word came to preach the Gospel, the Good News.

God had news for us. It is Good News and was delivered by Jesus as the prophets foretold: Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom of God (see Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Luke 4:43; Luke 8:1); or the “good news of God” (see Mark 1:14-15). Jesus was going all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom. The whole point of Jesus’ saving mission is in His words of life.

Today we read of the accomplishment, the completion of the Father’s work. The Good News of Jesus is that the barrier is broken. The curtain is torn. The graves have been opened. Curse and separation have ended. Reconciliation is here. What is in heaven is for us on earth. We have full access to the kingdom of God. Thanks be to God we have these words in all their fullness.

Today, we pause to hear the Good News in full. No shortcuts. Nothing – no concerns or worries about our time – getting in the way of God’s time. Like John, the faithful disciple, and the women, we walk through all the words, from Bethany to the cross and to the tomb.

We don’t look for a shortcut – like Judas did, trying to bring on the kingdom through treachery and betrayal. We stand unafraid before God’s word and accept it and Him in full. We do not walk away, denying Him like Peter did.

In my years of ministry and proclaiming the word, I have immersed myself in the Gospel. This is the good news, given for us who are weary. I, and I know you; have said, even in our weariness, this is the word that rouses us.

Again, Father, why is the gospel so long?

It is so we may wallow in it, swim in it, live in it. We are here to live in the moment. From the spectacle of Palm Sunday to the mystery of the Eucharist, to the foot of the cross, to the tomb; every nuance, every emotion, every tear is ours to own.

We are people of the word who center our lives on Jesus, the Word. There can be no compromise in that. We don’t want the watered down version. So today we stood, stood with Jesus, loyal to His word. Roused, energized, ready, we live faithful to His command: to proclaim the kingdom of God, and they went out and traveled from place to place, proclaiming the good news.

You house,
My house.

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”

Today, our Psalm response is taken from the first verse of Psalm 122. It speaks of the overwhelming joy, gladness, happiness that comes to us when we enter the house of the Lord. When David heard the people say that they wanted to go up to the Lord’s house, His temple, his heart leapt for joy; We are all going, we are joining as one to meet the Lord.

Do we know how David felt? Are his words part of our experience? I can say that I know. Our Church and this parish are a place of joy for me. I can proclaim, using the words of Psalm 26: O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells. I hope David’s words and this place are joy for you too.

The Psalms mention the Lord’s house at least forty-seven times. Each mention is tied to praise, blessing, and renewal. In 1897, our forbearers sought a place of joy. They wanted to go up to the house of the Lord. When they got there, they wanted to find renewal and gladness. They didn’t. Rather, they found oppression. The vine they believed they were part of had withered; it was no longer grafted unto Christ but onto the political and economic interests of men of power. Psalm 127 instructs us: Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. And so, the men and women of that time determined to rebuild the Lord’s house. They did it, and because they did so, we can all say with Psalm 5: But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love will enter thy house.

Here we are, 121 years later. Today, we celebrate along with the words from Psalm 23: I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. More than celebrate, we continue to grow in our joy. How and why?

We continue to grow in joy because our Holy Church teaches that the house of the Lord is not just a temple or a building; it is our homes, it is our places. The house of the Lord extends beyond the walls of this parish church and encompasses our families, or neighbors, our communities, and all who seek to enter the house of the Lord. For those who do not know the greatness of this house, we are sent forth and called to make them part of our family. Repeating the words of Psalm 84 we can call to them saying: Blessed are those who dwell in the Lord’s house, ever singing His praise!

We continue to grow in joy because, as Psalm 92 says: We are planted in the house of the LORD. Being planted there means the house of the Lord goes where we go. Through our faithfulness and dedication to the Lord’s house, our homes and our families become bound together in the house of the Lord. Our homes become mini-models of His house. Our homes become places of praise and joy if we invite the Lord into our family life. Being in the house of the Lord, making our homes His house, and joining our families to Him we have the confidence David had and can say with him: Praise the LORD. you that stand in the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God!

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

This year we enter into the Great and Holy Lent on Valentine’s Day. The last time this happened was in 1945. This presents us with a whole bunch of dilemmas. Can I celebrate Valentine’s Day? Which celebration is the greater obligation? Do I have to fast and abstain from meat? The underlying question is: Does God’s love motivate us? Paul, in speaking to the Corinthians, recounts the great promises God has given us in Jesus. Among the great promises: That God will walk among us and live with us (He is not in a long distance relationship). That we are God’s people; He receives us in His fatherly love. We are His sons and daughters; co-heirs with Jesus to the resurrection and eternal life in heaven. That we have communion with Him, His protection and blessings that are absolute and unconditional. Does God’s love motivate us? Yes, if we work to improve externally and internally; to live in purity of heart and to train to avoid all sin – the killer of love. Lent is the time to discipline ourselves and cleanse ourselves so that we live up to the love we have received from God. That is what Lent is about – living up to the love and promises we own. Lent is an opportunity to live up to love – to cleanse ourselves, achieve deep-seated changes in our lives, and align ourselves with God’s love. It is a happy coincidence that Valentine’s Day marks the start of Lent because Lent is about the change real and honest love brings, the good love motivates, and the happiness and holiness love attains.

Join us in the run up to and for the start of the Lenten season. So much going on. Souper Bowl Sunday, Annual Meeting, Ash Wednesday, our Valentine’s Raffle, our Seniorate Lenten retreat. Join us – become part of a family of faith and shine forth – bringing more and more to real freedom in Jesus. We so look forward to meeting you, to working together, to being love to our world.

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

Will we live
big?

Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd playing Jake and Elwood Blues had just been released from prison. They went back to visit the orphanage in which they were raised. They find out that creditors are about to foreclose on the orphanage. Suddenly, the understood the big thing they had to do. They were going to pay off the debt. Their oft repeated statement of purpose was: “We’re on a mission from God.”

Paul was certainly on a mission from God. Yet, he says something very odd – especially on point for us in this day and age – give no offense. Many people tend to think (by our failure to live like Jesus) that giving offense is what the Church is all about!

Paul was focusing on the difference between insignificant matters, small ‘t’ traditions and practices and the essentials of faith. Don’t quibble, don’t focus on the small things, don’t create offense for anyone over small things. Rather, come together in unity on the big things, the essentials. In doing that, show off Jesus. Set an example of humility. Shine forth like Jesus – be like Him. Open the door to all in need of the big healing, big peace, big confidence, and big security only Jesus can give.

Think of what Jesus taught about the things that are key. Two things only. Two commandments. Love God, love each other. Any minor issues there, anything insignificant? Not at all.

Paul’s experience helped him to really understand what Jesus taught. Paul often focused on the greatness of the mercy that was shown to him. Paul saw and experienced, in a flash of blinding light, what Jesus focused on. It was never the small. Paul had been focused, in his pharisaical ways, on minutia. It his encounter with Jesus, Paul saw where he fell short in understanding. He finally got God’s big mercy. What counts is that God wipes out our small and the big mess of sins – our failure to love God and to share in that love as an act of love – so we can start anew.

If barriers are raised to our neighbors, by arrogance, being bound to the small and insignificant, then the path to Jesus’ big mercy is blocked.

As we begin our Pre-Lenten preparation, let us consider how we may remove any block on the way to Jesus. Are we opening the path to mercy? How will we live? What mission from God are we on? Who will we be imitators of?

Jesus healed the leper, and he couldn’t stand not to tell of the big mercy he received. …he went out and began to talk freely about [Jesus] and the people came to Him from every quarter.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Arise and shine, I can just hear my mom saying those words as I covered my head with the blankets. Never all that happy to get up in the morning, here I am in 2018 as a priest of our Holy Church, leading a wonderful family of faith in our worship of God through His Son, Jesus. Of course that means I have to get up early. It’s worth it! The prophet Isaiah, using the words above, was speaking to the dejected people of Israel. They were in captivity in Babylon, with covers over their heads. He tells them to get up, to wipe the sleep from their eyes, to shine because an amazing thing was happening. They were being saved, recalled from exile. They were being called home. This happened to us that first Christmas. We were called to take on a new attitude. No more pulling the covers over our heads. The time of Jesus is here. We are being saved. Salvation had come, redemption is being accomplished. All we have to do is get up and meet and accept Him. Funny things happen in life. Sometimes not too “haha” funny. The light dims, the warmth cools, and we start pulling the covers over our heads again. When that happens we have to recall these words from Isaiah. We have to reconnect with the Manger, the start of great light and warmth. We have to gather the courage to engage in worship and community once again. The New Year is here. We are being called. Time to arise and shine.

Join us during this Christmas season (all forty days of it). We celebrate the Circumcision of the Lord, the Holy Name of Jesus, the Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord. The SouperBowl of Caring is coming up – help us feed those in need in our local community. Take part in our annual Outrageous Valentine’s Raffle. Stop by for a great homemade spaghetti dinner. Schedule a home blessing. Learn about our music scholarships. Become a member and sign up to help serve the community. We so look forward to meeting you. Time to arise and shine!

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

Who’s
first?

but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior

The Christmas season is a time for recognizing firsts. As we browse through the scriptures, we encounter those who did things for the first time. It is, however, a little difficult to decide who did what first.

Did John the Baptist proclaim Jesus first? Not really. The Shepherds we honor today did that. They heard about Jesus and told of Him first. They made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child.

Was John the Baptist the first to be killed because of his proclamation of the truth? On December 26th, the Church honors St. Stephen, called the proto-martyr – the first martyr for the faith. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. But on December 28th the Church honors the Holy Innocents, the children and infants killed by Herod after the Magi’s visit. Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region. They were first.

People have an affinity for firsts. We like winners – and these martyrs and evangelists were indeed the first winners. But do we realize that we are all winners? Like the Humble Shepherds, Jesus’ birth heralds the fact that we have been made winners, and are in first place.

In writing to Titus, Paul lays down the way winners, people in first place, are to live. He says that winners are different from non-winners because they lead different lives. Paul shows us that the change wrought in Jesus coming – the appearance of God’s kindness and love – gave us the possibility of changing – becoming victorious. It is not that we have done anything to bring about this change. Rather, it is a change gifted to us by Jesus’ appearance.

Those first visitors encountered this opportunity. Poor and outcast humble shepherds encountered Theophany. They saw the glory of God and heard the message. They were changed to winners, not just by the encounter, but because they acted on it.

Paul walks us through a formula he frequently uses, comparing before and after. In verse 3 he says how things once were – we were total losers: foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another. Now we are winners because, He saved us.

Because we are made winners, people in first place, we are called to boldly and richly live the life laid out for us by the One who gives the first victory.

June – and the newsletter is on-time (even a day-and-a-half early).

June marks Sacred Vocations month in our Holy Church. Take time this month to pray for the Church’s faithful and dedicated bishops, priests, and deacons. They daily kneel and pray for all of us in submission to God and as true servant leaders. They make sacrifice and oblation for the needs and good of all of us. They don’t want to be raised up on pedestals, but only wish to raise all of us up to God.

Pray too for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and diaconate – for strong, determined, brave, and faithful men to set to work for the Kingdom of God:

O Almighty God, look mercifully upon Thy Church and incline the hearts of many of Her sons to offer themselves for the work of the sacred ministry, so that by their labors Thy light may shine in the darkness of the world and the coming of Thy kingdom may be hastened by the perfecting of Thine elect. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


June also marks Father’s Day and the start of our summer series of programs. Please join us for our new monthly Holy Mass and Anointing for Healing to be held on June 15th at 6:15pm. Read more and reflect on what it means to be Church and get updates on Church-wide events for this year of regeneration.

You may view and download a copy of our June 2015 Newsletter right here.

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