HOPE!

Who is like the LORD, our God, who is enthroned on high and looks upon the heavens and the earth below? He raises up the lowly from the dust; he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people.

Welcome and thank you for joining us this day in our worship of, and hope in, the Lord.

Thank you for joining for this celebration – a day in which the door to the reception of Jesus’ body and blood is opened to Karina and Marianna – a time in which the hope unity with Jesus offers – is made very real to them.

Thank you for joining us on this Back to Church Sunday, a moment in which we revitalize the hope we all have in Jesus.

The Church offers some tough readings and a difficult to understand gospel today. We may puzzle and wonder what that is all about. Recall, we read a gospel about a cheating steward who is getting fired and who then gets commended for more cheating.

Jesus was using a negative example to show that the businessmen of His day were more wise, bold, and forward-thinking in the management of what they had than the people of God were in managing what they had – their hope. Jesus calls on us to pursue the Kingdom of God and its hope with at least the same vigor and zeal that the worldly pursue their profits.

On special days like today we tend to look back at our first communion, our innocence, the joys of the day that perhaps we could not fully comprehend. When I made my first communion it was with a certain fear and trembling made more so by hair that had to be perfect, a back straight, kneeling stiff and straight through the whole Mass, and the thought drummed into my head of the power and glory I was entering into as Christ entered into me. I did not understand until much later the hope I now owned.

Today Karina and Marianna are surrounded by their closest family and friends and the entire family of the Holy Church worldwide. They are made one with all of us in the body and blood of Christ. Most importantly, they share in the hope we have. Know that as you are surrounded today in love, so in receiving Jesus you will always be filled and surrounded by Jesus’ loving presence

By the Eucharist we live in Jesus’ eternal presence. Our, and your hope is in the assurance of Jesus fully present and real to us. We look steadfastly at Jesus and understand inside and out that living in Him gives us forever hope – a confidence that nothing can get in the way; nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus fully in and surrounding us.

Karina, Marianna, all of us receiving Jesus grow here and now in wisdom, boldness, vigor, and zeal for the Kingdom. In receiving Him we are lifted to heaven, seated with the hope filled royalty of the Kingdom.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.

One of the key questions at this year’s Central Diocesan Clergy Retreat was about the import of our faith in Jesus. Does believing in and following Jesus matter one bit beyond the couple of hours we spend at church each week?

This is an important question for us, both as clergy and as the entirety of God’s people. We should be doing this self check each day – and I highly recommend it.

Another consideration offered by our retreat leader, Bishop Richard Lipka, is does our faith matter to anyone else. He put it very realistically: Does Governor so-and-so or President so-and-so ever pause one minute during their decision making process to consider what God says, what Scripture speaks, or what the people of God proclaim? Of course not. We find ourselves faced with a world that wants us to give up hope, to just surrender. God says differently. A couple of practical examples.

One person I met this summer explained the many challenges they are facing – health, financial, and most importantly whether God really cares. Does my faith make any difference in my life? Is there reason for hope? As we spoke they reflected on all the people who are helping (generally people of faith) and how thankful they are. My response: You answered your own question. Those around you are sent by God, are a portion of the hope God offers. Yes, you have reason for hope.

A young person I encountered commented on how hopeless the world is, how it is a place where the loneliness of hopelessness predominates. That young person encountered people of faith and was transformed – both to faith in Jesus and to an attitude of hope.

Believing in and following Jesus matters greatly. It is transformative in individual lives and in the world. We offer something the world cannot offer – hope that is more powerful than anything we may face. We have been born of God Who overcame for us. We have victory and overcome hopelessness in Him. Praise Him and share the hope.


Welcome to September and all of the incredible blessings being poured out on our community of faith. God Is Good!!!

On September 11th we welcome the Solemnity of Brotherly Love – the foundation of our relationship with each other as citizens of the Kingdom. September 18th we celebrate Back To Church Sunday with the theme “HOPE HAPPENS HERE.” All are welcome in the Kingdom. Invite someone, or just show up, find those blessings we all so need. We celebrate First Communion on the 18th as well. So proud of our young people and their commitment to the faith. September’s Newsletter also provides a report on all the fantastic events we took part in throughout the summer. We start our Christmas Vigil Raffle with a chance to win $2,500. Get your tickets now. We engage in prayer for the upcoming XXVI Holy Synod of the Church – everyones’ prayer help is needed! We solemnly mark the 21st Anniversary of 9/11/2001.

Check out Music Scholarships, Daily Holy Mass, Check our Worship Schedule, our September Discipleship message, and we begin a new series of devotions to the Infant of Prague in the Polish Language.

Zapraszamy wszystkich Polaków – Koronka do Praskiego Dzieciątka Jezus w Waszych intencjach w każdy wtorek o godz. 12:30 po południu.

Check it all out in our September 2022 Newsletter.

Strength of Faith

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.

Hope Is Here! It has been so encouraging to gather as a church and uncover all the ways that our faith is strengthened when we find hope in our relationship with Jesus and each other. We have learned that there is hope for the weary because we don’t have to carry our burdens on our own. There is hope for the broken because forgiveness is offered to us in love. There is hope for the underdog because with God we can do anything. This week we deal with a special subject, with one of the hardest. Is there hope for the doubter?

The gospel illustrates a concept that can be very difficult for us: That service and the attitude of a child is the way to the Kingdom, and that suffering is the prelude to glory. St. James tells us what he learned at Jesus’ side: That we must walk in purity of spirit, gentleness, mercy, constancy, and sincerity as cultivators of peace. This raises a problem of doubt, doubt that those things, that way of living, can make us victorious. Can it?

James’ illustrations of the world’s way the way we are to live presents a juxtaposition. We get that, but still doubt because the worldly seem to be doing so much better. So, I doubt, ‘Can Jesus’ promise be true?’

Each walk has markers. Each of them leads a person on a different path. One is a disordered path with disordered loyalties and desires. The other is well ordered with loyalty to God and a desire only to do God ordered things. One is a life with finality, the other life without end. But, can that promise alone ease my doubt? 

Doubt has become a common occurrence today. People have failed us. There is so much false information out there. Covid-19 has overwhelmed us. Each of these caused doubt and we wonder where God is. Certainly, the disciples must have doubted as Jesus spoke of the road to Jerusalem and the outcome He faced, death and resurrection. They probably doubted that being last and childlike would work out so great. We are there with the disciples and struggle against doubt.

There are many struggling with their faith. They may have lost hope that Jesus is who they thought he was. How does Jesus respond to them, to me when I doubt or struggle? He would welcome the questions, the conversation, the wrestle. He knows that honest doubt will find honest answers.

So Jesus left us, the Church, to listen to those who doubt for what they are not saying as much as what they are saying. Where does the doubt come from? Where is the hurt, pain, and struggle? We are so blessed to be that congregation who is willing to listen and provide hope to the doubting. We empathize and express compassion. We allow ourselves to feel others’ hurt, pain, and struggle, and that equips us to meet needs and build a bridge for the doubting back to faith and hope. The answer to doubt is providing Jesus Who is hope for all. What we do here helps us and all to see Jesus as the antidote to doubt.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote of a trip where his ship encountered a terrible storm. In the dark belly of the ship, the passengers were frightened and worried. They were filled with doubt. One of the men finally ventured out and to the upper deck, where he saw the captain quietly on the bridge. With a tranquil face, he looked out across the sea and gave orders. He turned to the man and smiled. The man made his way back to the cabin where the other passengers were huddled together. In response to their questions and doubt, he comforted them by saying, “I have seen the captain’s face, and all is well.” That is what we must say.

Yes, hope is here for the doubting for Jesus is here with us. Looking into the face of Christ and holding onto each other we know all is well. We have peace.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

I have a box. For those who get to church early enough or stay late enough, for the past two years you have seen me walking in and out of church with an old broken down box. The box is my briefcase of sorts. My family often comments: Why don’t you get rid of that old box and just get a briefcase? I don’t say much. I like my box.

This month’s scripture, taken from Matthew 6:33 reminds us of priorities – what comes first, what is most important: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

The box is a reminder to me of what we are celebrating this year, and in a special way how we will begin the month of October. One-hundred years ago people in Schenectady packed bags and boxes. They did not have much. They tread on foot to the corner of Raymond and Van Vranken to build a new church. This would be a church providing them the freedom to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Not long before this momentous event in 1921, these very same people packed boxes and bags and trunks to emigrate to the United States. They sought a better life and the opportunity to add good things to their lives – the dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What is worthy of not just celebration, but also emulation, is that these founders did not separate or compartmentalize seeking the kingdom, righteousness, and a better life. They saw them as God’s way-of-life. They listened to what St. James pointed out: Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; it comes down from God (James 1:17). As we celebrate the centennial of our wonderful parish, as we reflect on the good gifts we have received, let us remember those bags, boxes, and trunks. Let us recall that the search for truth and the achievement of victory took work and struggle. Most importantly, may we too live seeking what is important first, and all these things will be added to us.


Welcome to our September 2021 Newsletter. We are one-month away from our grand centennial celebration and September holds a wide variety of worship events leading up to this momentous occasion. Check out the October 1st through 3rd centennial schedule. In September we celebrate Labor Day, Brotherly Love Sunday, and Back to Church Sunday (who will you invite?). We commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11/2001. We reflect on our summer events and the great things accomplished in our parish, including astounding generosity. Ready for coffee hour? It’s back starting September 12th. Ready for daily Holy Masses? They are returning to parish life. Pray in advance of our Diocesan Synod and reflect on walking with God and each other.

All that we do, all accomplished, a future filled with hope is by God’s good grace and YOUR love and commitment. Thank you!

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

What about me?

Seek the LORD while He may be found, call Him while He is near. Turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, Who is generous in forgiving.

First and foremost, welcome to church on this Back to Church Sunday. Whether you are joining us for the first time, for the first time in a while, or for another week, we welcome you. Whether on-line or in-person, we welcome you. Know that God has put it on our hearts to tell you, to reassure you, and to make clear to you that you are welcomed and loved.

Over and over in scripture, God makes clear His pursuit of His people. He constantly calls after them. He runs to them, even when they are afar off.  He does not ask anything from His people other than a relationship founded in faithful love. 

God says come, no cost, nothing to pay. He says return. Call Me, turn to Me, and you have Me. Look here, I have gifts for you, My Son’s life for you. My love and grace, freedom, and everlasting life for you. Yet, we ask, ‘But what about me?’ We still ask, ‘Can it be that simple?’ 

The loving Lord is standing here, in our midst, and He says, ‘Yes! That simple.’ I am ‘near to all who call upon Me.

You see, the Lord’s creation is founded on love. God has built His kingdom on a foundation of love. He did not build His kingdom on some set of insurmountable barriers, nor upon a checklist of things we must do. This is the thing many find so difficult to believe, that an all-powerful, Almighty God would welcome me, that He would welcome me whether I come at the start of my life, in the middle, or near the end – and that He would not extract a price from me.

Brothers and sisters, perhaps you have heard someone tell you that God is vengeance, or that He punishes to force us to act. Perhaps you have heard that some formulaic process of approaching Him is needed, or that obedience to some set of man-made rules and disciplines is required, or that you must punish yourself to get to God. None of that is true!

It is as simple as love. Love me and each other Jesus taught.  Follow me, He says. From there, love motivates our footsteps, our daily doing, speaking, working, prayer, and sacrifice. It is that simple.

What about me? Jesus tells us that I, me, who I am, is welcome today. There is no, ‘Where were you?’ with God. His call is continuous, and if we have taken the opportunity to come today, whether the first time, as a moment of return, or even as our 23,660th time being here, we are welcome and are in the kingdom. We have sought and found Him Who welcomes us.

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

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

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

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

Read about all it in our September 2020 Newsletter.

Yes!
TOGETHER!

This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.

Welcome BACK TO CHURCH! If this is your first time visiting with us, we want you to know how happy we are. If you are longstanding faithful parishioners, we want you to know how happy we are.

You may be thinking to yourselves, why is he happy, why should the community be happy if I am here? Maybe he is just one of those pastors who is happy at just about anything?

Well, yeah, but that’s not the point.

The real point of our joy is the same point St. Paul was making about himself. Paul was overjoyed because he was taken from a life without meaning, without purpose, without hope, to a life regenerated – new life in Christ Jesus. He had eternal life in Jesus and the joy of now working TOGETHER in the community of faith. He received mercy, not allowance to continue his own way, but the mercy necessary to be changed into the very image of Jesus in communities throughout the Mediterranean.

For those who are joining us for the first time, for the first time in a while, or are here again, returning faithfully and diligently, today’s call is about rejoicing in knowing Jesus deeper and better, to experience His exorbitant mercy, and to be changed into His image in our world.

Relying on Jesus and being His image is not an easy choice. It is not popular – and definitely puts us into the core countercultural movement of our time, but so it was with Paul and all the early Christ followers. Paul counted it as mercy – to be saved from sin into a new life that actually mattered, and he worked together with others to spread knowledge of that salvation. Paul stood as an example of what is possible in Jesus, and so must we.

Today, and each week we are happy you are here. We are happy that the mercy of Jesus is so all encompassing, so total, that He will not leave any behind. We are happy because now together, in Jesus, we celebrate and rejoice.

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.

Welcome to true
freedom.

I love the LORD because he has heard my voice in supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me the day I called. For he has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 116 – words that cut so true today. They cut through the gloom and pain of isolation and loneliness. They cut away pain and hurt. They cut the entirety of negativity away so we can clearly see what God has in store for us. Yes, each of us!

So often we feel unworthy. How can God love me? Where is He in my life? I feel so alone and abandoned.

These are not just feelings, brief thoughts that pass through our minds and cast a shadow over our hearts. They can be a reality whether we live alone or with 2, 4, 6, or even 10 other people. They exist whether we work or are retired. Young or old, loneliness, despair, and disconnection are on the rise. Seventy-five percent of Americans admit to feeling a deep sense of loneliness. That isn’t a once-in-a-while thing. That is deep despairing loneliness. The number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985.

That is what today, and frankly every Sunday, is about. It is about God’s house, His dwelling place, His family, His body. St. Paul often used the body as an analogy. If one part of the body needs help, we, the church, are to work together to save it.

Sunday is not just a momentary beginning – a few hour head start on the rest of the week. Sunday is the start of continuous action – to plug-in, to connect, to form and live friendships, to end loneliness and separateness.

In our Psalm, David finds God’s rescue. He sings thanksgiving in response to Divine rescue from mortal danger and from near despair. David knows God heard his cry. God freed him and David’s heart was filled with love – he saw and got it. God’s goodness made sense to him – finally. But David does more than sing.

In response to God’s love, David pledged and confessed faith. That is always the start. If you have never done that, pray along with me: Lord, I believe in You. I accept Your salvation and deliverance. I confess that I have sinned and done wrong before You. Cleanse me. I ask You into my life and acknowledge You as my Lord and Savior. You have been truly freed. Jesus will never leave you, nor will His Church, His people. Welcome to church!

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jesus said these words twice, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Once was to the Apostles on the occasion where Jesus had asked them: “Who do people say I am?” They confessed their faith. Jesus then gave them an awesome and awful power, to loose and bind sin. The second time was when Jesus was explaining how the Church was to deal with sin. First, go to a person privately and confront them – try to turn them. Next go with two witnesses and confront them – try again to turn them. Finally, bring them before the whole Church, and if they refuse to change, to turn away from sin, they are to be treated as an outsider. Jesus reminded them of the awesome and awful power He had given them, the power to loose and bind sin. Why say awesome and awful? We frequently encounter the awesome part of Jesus’ gift to His Apostles and their successors. It is the power to loose sin, to free people from what binds them down. It is the ability to grant freedom. That is the greatest thing! We use this awesome gift a lot. Because of that, and because we hear it from the pulpit, ‘forgive one another,’ we kind of take forgiveness for granted. It seems it is always there for us. The other side, the awful side of Jesus’ grant is that we have been given the authority to bind. That is one fearful power, to leave someone in their sins, to effectively condemn them to their burden. Yet, Jesus gave us this power for a very important reason. The reason for this gift is some people’s refusal to turn around – the literal meaning of repent. Some just won’t repent, wont turn around and go the other way. If someone persists in their sin(s), we should not just give forgiveness. The faithful must reflect on both aspects of the power Jesus gave us. The call is to turn, and live as Jesus showed. We must take Him seriously. We must be aware and responsibly use both the awesomeness and fearfulness of Jesus’ gift to teach and correct.

Our September newsletter welcomes the season of change; the air, a little crisper, apples, leaves, and pumpkin everything. We celebrate our commitment to Brotherly Love. We open our doors and hearts on September 16th for Back to Church Sunday. We have a full calendar of events including: our 9/11 prayer service, Polish Dinner, prayers for our upcoming XXV Holy Synod, and so much more. Find out too why it is better to wash…

Check out all this and more in our September 2018 Newsletter.