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.

A job, a career, a
calling.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

On this Sunday after Christmas we especially honor the humble shepherds who heard the angelic proclamation and responded.

Some historians have posited that the shepherds who were called the evening of Jesus’ birth were the very shepherds who tended the sheep used in sacrifice at the Temple.  In the modern day, the Hebron Road runs between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It is about nine kilometers, about twenty-two minutes by car from one place to the other, so we could imagine that the Temple sheep and lambs were kept in the fields along that nine kilometers, six-and-a-half-mile route. It’s not that far.

The symbolism there is pretty mighty. God calls those who cared for the Temple sacrifices, the lambs offered up for the sins of the people, to be the first to visit the Lamb of God.

Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor at the Yale School of Management, established three different, defined contexts of work: job, career and calling:

A job provides you with pay and perhaps some benefits. A job is primarily about earning a paycheck. People who hold jobs are typically more invested in their lives outside of work. Work is merely the way they afford to do the things they love. They do not see their job as a place to learn, gain experience or increase connections.

A career is what you do for yourself. Career people are also working for the paycheck but are more driven to seek out opportunities for advancement. People with a career orientation tend to have a long-term vision for their future, set goals and enjoy competition with colleagues.

Those with a calling however feel a deep alignment between their vocation and who they are as a person. They feel a personal and emotional connection to their work. They are enthusiastic, have a sense of purpose and are willing to work harder and longer to make a contribution. Unsurprisingly, this group is often the most satisfied with their life’s work.

What did the shepherds have and where did they end up? It is likely that they saw their work as a job. There wasn’t much room to learn or advance. Where they ended, and where we need to end is with a calling. For they were changed by their encounter with Jesus and they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child.

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.

Merry
joymas.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth.

Merry joymas! We still have 72 days until the Solemnity of the Nativity, till Christmas. We are currently living in the secular season of Hallowthanksmas.

The Urban Dictionary defines this time as: “the holiday celebrating the most wonderful time of the year, October through December. It is a time of great warmth, sharing, parties, and of great American commercialism. People complain about overlapping holidays, but why? Embrace it as Hallowthanksmas!”

Those who wish to rile up the crowds un-celebrate this time by reminding us of Jesus being the ‘reason from the season’ and that we should always and everywhere wish everyone Merry Christmas … and not Happy Holidays. Churches jump on the bandwagon too, yet here we are, celebrating the Solemnity of the Christian Family in mid-October with scripture taken from a gospel heard in the Christmas season. We must be weird. We aren’t on the frontlines saying let ‘Christmas be Christmas.’ Rather, we are placing ourselves in the middle of the Christmas story today.

In the great grace of the Incarnation, the Son of God places Himself squarely in the middle of the human experience. The fullness of His being as true God and true man shows God’s infinite love for us, His infinite mercy, justice and power, and the Divine wisdom of His saving action. Not to save and go, stop and shop, but to join Himself totally with us so that He could model the way forward, the way we can follow as His fellow human beings. The way of family.

Those posting the memes of Jesus being the ‘reason from the season,’ those little sayings we see online or hear in conversation, have stumbled on a bit of wisdom. Jesus is indeed the reason for the season, but not just Christmas, f or every season. He is the way and the model for each and every day.

Today we place ourselves in the midst of that young Holy Family. Today we recognize that His way is the way for the totality of our existence and experience. In the Incarnation, among all the aspects of our humanity, God, Who lives as family, chose family. As our opening prayer teaches: “through family life we learn to love and care for others, we are everyone’s kin.” Today we celebrate this great gift of God’s family way of life, the way Jesus modeled. The way we must live. Happy joymas! 

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.

Outstanding, outgoing,
out-of-here.

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD

Happy Sunday new Israel! Indeed, we are the new Israel. We are the holders of the New Covenant sealed in the blood of Jesus. As recipients, and beneficiaries of the New Covenant, we have the Lord written on our hearts. We are the Lord’s people. We belong to Him. With the Lord’s Law of love written within us, we no longer have need to be told ‘know this’ or ‘know that.’ Rather, we have innate and intimate knowledge of God’s way.

On this Sunday, dedicated to Brotherly Love, we see Jesus reminding us of the importance of living by the Word implanted in us. Two, a priest and a Levite, saw the man in need and passed by on the other sideBut a Samaritan came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion. The priest and the Levite did not connect with the Covenant in their hearts. They ignored it, or misinterpreted it, or just plain missed it. Yet the Samaritan, who was supposed to be outside the Covenant, responded. He didn’t seek a book or an advisor for guidance, he responded with compassion. Jesus made His point about actually living the Covenant. Having done so, He told the young man, who wanted to justify himself, to “Go and do likewise.”

So it is to us. As children of the New Covenant, we must live fully connected to God’s way in the midst of every situation. What we see, the situations we run into, are all a call to action – to respond with the action of brotherly love.

The Covenant was in the Samaritan. It called him to act in an outstanding way, to stand out with love. The Covenant called the Samaritan to be outgoing, to go out of his way to act with love. The Covenant called the Samaritan to get out-of-here, to get out of his own head, thoughts, needs, and desires so to act with love. Today, throughout this week before BACK TO CHURCH SUNDAY, and thereafter, let us live the New Covenant in our hearts by being outstanding, outgoing, and out-of-here.