But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

This Easter Season is marked by the particular joy of being together in-person in church once again. The beauty of each of your faces, your smiling eyes, the thanksgiving, the song, the praise reverberate with that joy. One year ago we could not gather in-person. We did not know what might happen. Would the parish survive? Would we ever gather again? How will I shop? How will I obtain my most essential needs? Most of us had never faced a challenge of the magnitude brought about by COVID-19. We deeply felt the loss of normalcy. The questions and the fears were natural. Tears were natural. Yet, in spite of those rightly placed feelings and fears, the parish persisted. Prayer and supplication were made for each of you, our entire Church, the nation, and the world. Holy Masses were offered. God’s mercy was called upon in Jesus’ Holy Name. Prayers of intercession were offered to the Blessed Virgin. Yes, throughout it all, the parish bore on, carrying out its witness before the world. Your discipleship fought against despair. The greatest testimony of the time was the gift of perseverance all of you, the parishioners, friends, and members of Holy Name of Jesus were graced with. You did not throw in the towel, nor would you even think of allowing for defeat. By God’s grace the parish not only survived, but grew and was strengthened. Your hearts were uplifted, but not only. The hearts and minds of countless others known and unknown encountered our witness to our risen Lord and Savior. We bore witness in ways seen and unseen, by prayer, outreach, charity, kindness, and sacrifice. Because of what we did together, witnessing to the might of Jesus’ Holy Name, grace continues to abound. The Lord Almighty is the creator of the times and the seasons. He chastises, but also lifts up. He tests and rewards those who bear up. You, my brothers and sisters, have borne up mightily in witness to the power of the Risen One in our lives.

April brings us again to Easter joy. Celebrating Easter in our 100th year as a parish recalls past joys and resurrects our hope for the future. Abundant blessings are being received as we continue moving forward.

This month we focus on Mother Teresa as a faithful disciple of our Lord who lived her life in a beautiful way showing unconditional love. We celebrate the return of two Holy Masses on Sundays and the regular reception of Holy Communion. We remind ourselves of our Sunday obligation which, first and foremost, requires our presence in church each Sunday. We learn various ways of giving the Easter greeting in many languages. Check out information on our Music Scholarship program. We look forward to this summer’s national activities, the Men’s Retreat and the Kurs Encampment for children and youth. Read our special thank you for great work and a beautiful donation. And, we also share more of our 100 years of memories.

Check out all this and more here in our April 2021 Newsletter.

Holy Week and the celebration of the Solemnity of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ are the true central point of our liturgical year. In this time, we are called in a special way to walk with Jesus from His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to the Last Supper, through His passion, death, and entombment, to His glorious resurrection. 

All celebrations will be conducted in full and the church is completely open. We will also broadcast our services for those who cannot attend in person.

  • March 28: Palm Sunday. Holy Mass with Blessing and distribution of Palms at 10am.
  • March 30: Holy Tuesday. Chrism Holy Mass in the Cathedral, Scranton, 11:30am.
  • March 31: Holy Wednesday. Day of Fast.
  • April 1: Maundy Thursday. Day of Fast. Holy Mass with Reception of Oils, Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and Striping of the Altar at 7pm. Church remains open afterward for private devotion.
  • April 2: Good Friday. Day of Fast. Church opens at Noon for private devotion Seven Last Words at 1pm. Bitter Lamentations / Gorzkie żale at 3pm. Liturgy of the Presanctified and Opening of the Tomb at 7pm. Church remains open afterward for private devotion.
  • April 3: Holy Saturday. Day of Fast. Liturgies of the day (New Fire, Blessing of Holy Water, Proclamation of the Exhortations, Renew of Baptismal Promises) at 10am followed by the Blessing of Easter Baskets.
  • April 4: Solemnity of the Resurrection (Easter). Solemn Resurrection Procession and High Holy Mass at 8am. Second Holy Mass at 10am.

Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention…

Joseph, the man, the myth, the legend, the reality.

There is so much tradition around St. Joseph, whether it be his particular patronages, to the myths that surround his intercession, that we tend to lose the reality of the man. The myth and legend sort of push out Joseph’s reality. So today, on the Solemnity dedicated to his role as the spouse of the Blessed Virgin, let us focus on his reality. That is where we, as followers of Jesus, can take instruction and improve in our discipleship. 

Let us look at those words found in today’s Gospel which focus on Joseph’s reality.

He decided.
He intended.

Don’t we all do that. The old saying, ‘The best laid plans…’ Like St. Joseph, we decide things, we intend things, yet in all those thoughts and plans we often find God taking us by surprise. St. Joseph certainly did. He found himself with a wife, and a soon to be born child. He found his life trajectory now subject to change.

His trajectory would be affected not just by God, but also by the political machinations of his day. Suddenly, off to Bethlehem of Judea for a census ordered by Caesar since he was of the house and lineage of David. Nathan’s communication of God’s promise to David would be fulfilled in that. David’s throne is now forever since his descendant, Jesus, the Christ, sits upon it and reigns from it.

From there, Joseph is to be affected by the murderous intents of Herod. Joseph, take your wife and the Child and go into Egypt. Well, that’s new. Then, Herod dies. Joseph, go back, but not to Judah, you have to move to Nazareth in Galilee. 

I do not think many of Joseph’s plans, aspirations, decisions, or intentions worked out the way he planned. On top of all that, he and Mary sort of existed in a constant state of wonderment – What did Simeon’s statement about Jesus mean? Why did Jesus say what He did after remaining behind in the temple?

In our discipleship journey, the best lesson we can take from St. Joseph is his complete trust in God’s plan, ears that listened to and accepted God’s word, and a willingness to go in a direction that was not in his personal game plan. St. Joseph teaches us to accept God’s plan with great patience and trust. His example calls us to live that patience and trust, to go God’s way, in an upright, virtuous, and moral manner.

One hundred years ago a group of people, right here in Schenectady, got thrown off kilter. Everything they thought would happen, everything they had planned for went away. They had already faced changes they might not have otherwise imagined, crossing the ocean, third-class steerage, and arriving in a new country, often without any resources other than hope. Once relatively established and in place the next challenge arose. They had to set off in a different direction so to honestly and forthrightly follow God’s Holy Word, the Gospel way. They had to trust in God Who was showing them the path to faithfulness. This they did, taking St. Joseph as the patron for this journey. How apropos! How right they were.

Like Joseph, the surprises kept coming, and the road was not easy or smooth for those people, yet they prevailed, and today we walk in the footsteps they first trod. How blessed we are to be Jesus’ disciples and heirs to holy St. Joseph’s beautiful legacy right here in Schenectady.

Certainly, St. Joseph will continue to intercede for each of us, as immigrants, caretakers, husbands, fathers, foster parents, expectant mothers, workers, and for a peaceful falling asleep in the Lord. Who knows, he may even intercede for the sale of our homes…

More importantly, as we continue our journey, let us be imitators of St. Joseph’s reality, ever ready to say yes to God’s promptings; to go in a direction we otherwise would not. Let us be ready to go and to build. May we trust in God’s way. So too, let us remain loyal to the Blessed Mother Mary by properly honoring her and most of all, let us love Jesus above all by walking as Joseph did. Amen.

Be not afraid!

“I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.”

So far in Lent we have focused on the change and reform necessary in our lives. We have been focusing on the various Lenten disciplines, the means and methods by which we achieve conversion, change and reform. These disciplines help us become more ardent and faithful livers of Jesus’s gospel way.

The subjects of fasting, sacrifice or giving, and study have been covered thus far. Next week we resume with the consideration of prayer and proclamation.

Our Holy Church pauses today to celebrate. We sense it because today we hear the Gloria and the Alleluia. Lenten purple is put away for this moment and is replaced by joyous white.

We celebrate because this Sunday, one-hundred and twenty-four years ago, a group of oppressed immigrants, people treated disrespectfully by oppressors in their home countries, right here in the United States, and even by their church, people thought little of by their neighbors, took the lessons learned from the Lenten disciplines they faithfully practiced and put them to action. 

This Sunday what they learned from fasting, sacrifice, study, prayer, and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus, humanity’s Emancipator, bore fruit. They found themselves the branches of the true Vine – alive in Christ. They found themselves freed of the dead old branch pruned away because of its corruption, pruned away because it heeded deceitful spirits and followed men with seared consciences.

These heroic people stood on the side of Jesus and just as proclaimed in Wisdom, He, the Just One, confronted their oppressors with great confidence. Those oppressors stood there in awe and they still do today.

As with every true Christian. from the time of the Acts Church. those faith filled immigrant heroes stood up without fear. They heard Jesus say, Fear not little flock. They inherited and have passed on to us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

We have Christ Jesus. We are His branches. His Father strengthens us and fills us with His good grace. We can face any fear and no longer be debilitated by it. The tender love of God has freed us from terror, from being held down, and from slavery to the opinions of those who do not know the Lord. A disciplined life strengthens us for this. Faithful trust is the fruit of the reform necessary in our lives and the world. Today we celebrate those who trusted and say with them:  In You O Lord I place my trust. Boże, do Ciebie się uciekam!

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Grace and peace to you all.

Because some of you have been requesting of your priest to have wakes or viewings of the deceased or visitations to the grieving family held in your parish church, I am responding to all of you here with my teaching on the matter.

The gatherings of family and friends before the funeral are not to take place within your parish church, but rather at the funeral home. Of course, I can still remember, at the age of ten back in 1957 in Buffalo, being one of two altar boys who accompanied the priest, right before the funeral, to the house of the deceased for prayers, where the body was laid out (yes, that’s how we referred to it!) in the living room where the couch usually stood. I never could figure out where they hid that thing to make room for the coffin, and the bouquets, and some folding chairs, and the stands with red seven-day votive candles, and then, frequently, the three- dimensional lighted portrait of our Lord with eyes that met your gaze wherever in the room you stood to admire it – or so thought the ten- year old altar boy. (Those were the days!)

It is important for you to understand that the wake itself is a social gathering associated with death, a time for family and friends of the deceased to gather together in grief to remember the one they loved or were acquainted with in various settings.

This is a time of sharing and thereby a time of bringing comfort through consolation to the family members of the deceased. This time is a chance for friends and loved ones to offer personal words, both privately and publicly (that is, eulogies offered by family members and friends), about the deceased including joyful, noteworthy as well as humorous accounts from among their experiences in life with the deceased. The wake also serves as a time for the family to prepare emotionally for the funeral that follows.

Individual prayers or prayers within a brief service of worship might or might not be a part of the wake experience. But as it usually happens at wakes, the discussions between the mourners/comforters themselves and with the grieving family escalate in volume, with a welcomed joviality that relieves some of the grief that many present are feeling. In fact, the gathering can become quite noisy. I truly believe these conditions are appropriate and necessary and even therapeutic for those attending the wake. It’s for that reason, then, that the appropriate venue or setting for this action is the funeral home. Your parish church is not available for this purpose.

Your parish church is the Church’s liturgical environment within which we require silence and reverence for prayer and meditation, especially before Mass and various services of worship. Our liturgical environment is a holy space, and everyone who avails himself of the opportunity to be within that sacred area is expected to observe its sanctity by the silence and reverence for prayer and meditation I described above.

When you are in your parish church you are in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament contained within the tabernacle at the high altar. (Removing the Blessed Sacrament is not an option.) Therefore, the distraction of conversation, amusements, or social diversions which naturally, and necessarily, occur during the wake make your parish church an inappropriate setting for that pre-funeral occasion.

There is one final point I need to make on the matter: The structure of the Order of our Polish National Catholic Church funeral rite is an instructive guide for us. The ceremonies of the day indicate the rites begin in the funeral home after which the body is transferred to the church for the funeral Mass, and then to the cemetery for the final committal. That the ceremonies of the day continue after the body is transferred from the funeral home to the parish church is a clear sign that our ritual does not at all envision any type of viewing in the church.

I hope this clarifies for you the reasons for utilizing the services of the funeral home for the purpose of the wake you may need to plan.

God bless you all in your discipleship and your faithful adherence to the teachings of your Bishop.

Bishop Bernard

Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scyth’ian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all. 

Colossians 3:11 

Welcome on this Solemnity of the Circumcision and the start of our one-hundredth year of service here in Schenectady, New York.

The Solemnity of the Circumcision, noted for the shortest gospel reading, one verse, Luke 2:21 and particularly noted for its importance in understanding who Jesus is – the fulness of His reality.

Unfortunately, many Churches have gotten away from this Solemnity. They’ve locked it far away, in some attic or basement. Not really sure why. In the early Church this was considered a great feast. Artists interpreted it in various ways through the centuries in painting and murals. But suddenly, it is mostly gone.

I suppose that in the last fifty to sixty years people have stored this feast way due to the yuck factor. Who wants to talk about Jesus that way, circumcision, penises, foreskins, blood. Yet by locking away this celebration people, and Churches, miss out on connecting to the reality of Jesus.

Consider the words of St. Paul, Christ is all. Let those words linger. Think on them, and see what they convey. Christ is all. Jesus, true God deigned to come down among us and to fully take on our humanity without surrendering His Divinity. Christ is all. Today we might say things like Jesus is awesome, Jesus is wonderful, Jesus is super, He is the most, and it is great to praise Him in those ways, yet the words Christ is all bear greater weight. They convey the fullness of His reality, His being.

In the fullness of His eternal reality and union with the Father and Holy Spirit, Christ is all. In His humanity Christ is all. Jesus did not come among us with conditions. He did not tell the Father, I’ll go, but… I’ll go, but no pain – He did not say that. I’ll go, but no circumcision – He did not say that. I’ll go, but no hunger and give me a comfy bed – He did not say that. Look at the manger – that is His truth.

Jesus came fully God, fully human. On this day He showed forth His humanity in this suffering and by doing so acknowledged His human nature as a true son of Abraham and David. We cannot set that aside or gloss it over. Similarly we cannot set aside or reject His Divinity. To do either is to denigrate who Jesus is and to rob ourselves of understanding.

By His coming, by all He encountered and endured in His humanity, Jesus lifted humanity to heaven. In His Divinity He broke down artificial barriers and as St. Paul so keenly observed, He removed distinction.

There is no more Jew or Greek (AKA gentile). No more circumcision or uncircumcision – it DOES NOT MATTER. What we are now is Christ in the world. Jesus is in us no matter our state or status in life. You are a barbarian – no problem – Jesus is for you. You poor, rich, married, unmarried, man, woman, menial worker or executive – those differences are of no account. Do not allow yourself to be labeled for Christ has removed those things.

In our one hundredth year here in Schenectady we celebrate this message – that this place is for all. Christ is for you without condition. The One Who is all came for you. Accepting Him He is in you without distinction. Christ is all – and has come specifically for each and every one of us. Come, be lifted to heaven bearing His Holy Name.

Elevation.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was revealed, He saved us. It was not because of any good deeds that we ourselves had done, but because of His own mercy

Much in the realm of Theology has been written about elevation, the ability we have, because of Jesus, God among us, to approach God and to become like Him.

In Orthodox Theology, this process is called Theosis (also referred to as deification, or divinization, or illumination). It is in essence the transformative process by which we grow into likeness to, or union with, God. Human beings – that’s us – can have real union with God and become like God in the way we love as well as in our holiness. 

Our goal is to become perfect in our love, to love as God does, through His grace and the awesomeness of His redemption. We might also call this sanctification – a process of growing godward.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote: 

He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creatures, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine…

St. Paul, writing to Titus, goes on to say: God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that by his grace we might be put right with God and come into possession of the eternal life we hope for.

Today we encounter the feeble and filthy – the Humble Shepherds stationed out in the field. Like us, God poured out His grace upon them, revealing to them this opportunity to not only go and see, but more so to become, to be elevated.

As with us, they had the choice. Literally, chill in the field or go and see. By trusting God and going, by saying yes, they came to see and understand.

Those Humble Shepherds were elevated. They became dazzling, radiant, immortal creatures, pulsating with energy, joy, wisdom and love. What a great model to follow.

We have been called, and I also offer a special word in this moment to all those called in a special way to be priests and deacons of our Holy Church. Each of us must decide whether we will go and see. If we say yes, we will see and understand. Having seen and understood, we will become dazzling, radiant, immortal creatures, pulsating with energy, joy, wisdom and love.

I want that. Do you want that?

God’s grace and mercy are such that this opportunity is ever present. Elevation, illumination, becoming like unto God is a chance awaiting our yes. Let us pick it up and move forward with energy, joy, wisdom and love just as those Humble Shepherds did.

The following is our schedule of Holy Masses and special blessings throughout the forty days of Christmas.

  • Wednesday, December 23: Rorate Holy Mass at 7:30am.
  • Friday, December 25: Shepherd’s Solemn High Holy Mass/Pasterka at midnight
  • Friday, December 25: Holy Mass of Christmas Day at 10am.
  • Sunday, December 27: Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds. Also St. John, Apostle & Evangelist. Holy Mass with Blessing of Wine (bring a bottle or two to be blessed) at 10am.
  • Friday, January 1: Solemnity of the Circumcision. Holy Mass at 10am.
  • Saturday, January 2: Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus – Holy Mass at 10am. Start of our 100th Anniversary Celebrations.
  • Sunday, January 3: Feast of the Holy Family. Holy Mass at 10am.
  • Wednesday, January 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. Holy Mass at 7pm includes blessing of chalk, charcoal, and incense.
  • Sunday, January 10: Solemnity – Baptism of our Lord. Holy Mass at 10am.
  • Tuesday, February 2: Solemnity – Presentation of our Lord. Holy Mass at 7pm includes blessing of candles/gromnica.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

December, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. That’s our secular calendar for December. Whether we get our calendar at the bank, the local liquor store, or online – we can find all those things. But if we happen to have picked up a Home Liturgical Calendar (there’s still a few available), we find a bridge, the start of a new Church Year with the season of Advent. Advent is about hope and expectation of a brighter future. In Advent we at once commemorate the waiting of the Jewish people for the promised Messiah and connect with our urgent expectation of His return. We are first and foremost called to look forward with hope. Henryk Adam Aleksander Pius Sienkiewicz, the Nobel prize winning author, wrote his “Trilogy” of historical novels – set in the 17th-century Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth – in the late 19th century. In this series of books (and I recommend you get the translation by W. S. Kuniczak) he points to people looking to the sky in the midst of Poland’s wars and sufferings, and declaring ’It must be the end.’ Certainly they did. Yet the world did not end in the 17th or 19th centuries. Any among the people of that time expecting the end lost the opportunity to hope forward. For us as Christians, the call is not to sit around contemplating the end, biting our nails and hoping we get to heaven, but to offer hope today, and thus to be heaven, the breaking open of the Kingdom of God, for our brothers and sisters. We all long, that cannot be helped. We have all been challenged, and especially in this year. For us, Advent longing and the challenges of the time must not be met with dour, sad, and forlorn attitudes but rather with hope filled and bright faith looking forward. Each Advent, let us look forward, not in a delusional way, but with ready faith. Let us look forward expectantly, with active faith. Let us never lose the opportunity to live and share hope. Grasp it so we may meet Jesus, the Hope of humanity.

December is here and so is our newsletter. This month we focus on looking forward with hope as we walk through the Advent Season into the new dawn of Christmas.

Read about our Advent charity programs and Pastor Jim’s Christmas greetings as well as his thankfulness on the 6th anniversary of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Join us for weekly Zoom calls so we can face these days Together in Faith and Love. Stop by Wednesday mornings for a Rorate Holy Mass (Holy Mass by candlelight only). Offer a Memory Cross for our Christmas trees. Get your Christmas wafers/opłatki. See our Christmas season schedule of Holy Masses. We continue planning for our 100th Anniversary, observed in 2021. There is a great reflection On Holy Communion. Want to be on the Parish Committee? Time to get your name into running.

Read about it in our December 2020 Newsletter.

Gifts from heritage.

“Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that He said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Today, our Church celebrates Heritage Sunday. Scripture provides reasons to celebrate this particular aspect of God’s creation.

When our Church was organized, it took care to stress the fact that God makes Himself and His teaching manifest through the use of nations and peoples.  Each nation is given gifts, unique perspectives and charisms that, when shared, enrich our faith in Jesus and teach us more about Him. We are called to respect, cherish, and celebrate what God has created and to learn from it.

Jesus came to God’s own people, the Jewish nation, to reveal all that God is and to call them to walk in the Way of the Gospel. They were called to see kingdom already but not yet fully present. Then, they were to cooperate in bringing the Kingdom of God to completion.

Paul, in writing to the Church at Galatia, reminds the gentiles that the Gospel preached to the Children of Abraham contained within it the promise that through them, all nations would be blessed (Galatians 3:8). The scriptural promise is fulfilled in that Abraham becomes the father of many nations.

While each nation has: allotted periods and boundaries, as well as the call to seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him (Acts 17:26-27), scripture also calls us to use great care in recognizing that we are citizens of heaven. Thus, we are never to place nation over God, or over the Holy Church, or over our call to first a foremost find our way toward God.

So, our Church set out to do exactly that. We honor heritage and all nations as a gift and as a means by which we find our way to God and build His kingdom.

Instructive in the way God works through nations is our first reading. Cyrus was called by God to free the people of Israel. Cyrus did not know God. As ruler over many nations he saw many gods and forms of worship. Cyrus himself likely worshiped Marduk. Yet, God used him and his nation to free and restore Israel.

Jesus understood that we will be established in nations as a means by which the Gospel is known and experienced. No one nation is good, and in all cases, we are to maintain perspective. Practical societal requirements (like taxes), are not what is important. Our growth in knowing God, appreciating His gits, and in building His kingdom, which has no coins, is what matters.