Seven

Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Throughout this Lent we are delving into the problem of sin and are using our study to set strategies that move us from self-centeredness and spiritual shortcoming to a life deep in line with the life of Jesus.

Throughout this Lent we are walking through the seven deadly sins and their antidote, the seven contrary virtues. We are studying contemporary examples of sin in TV, film and literature. In studying, we find what is required of us. In doing what is required we grow stronger. Having grown stronger, we will walk out of Lent armed with God’s grace and we will overcome!

Last week we covered pride, the first and core deadly sin. As we said, that sin is foundational to all the others. Today we cover Envy.

Envy is the desire for others’ traits, status, abilities, or situation. We engage in envy because we see others as so much luckier, smarter, more attractive, and better than we are. Of course, this stems from the pride we take in our own perceptions rather than the reality of others’ lives. If we take the time to set envy aside and learn about, empathize with, and care for others we will quickly learn that our envy is unfounded. By way of example, we have all heard that talented handsome actor or beautiful actress tell someone, much later in their career, ‘I thought I was ugly and untalented.’

Looking to television, in Gilligan’s Island, Mary Ann was the symbol of envy. She felt – and key on felt – that she could never achieve Ginger’s glamour. The interesting fact is that those characters, those sins, were portrayed on a castaway island. Sin indeed separates us and keeps us apart, abandoned, and lonely. In that, we nurse our envy.

Ok, I have to throw in SpongeBob – where envy is perfectly exemplified by Plankton. He was so envious of others that he never saw their struggle, he never came into relationship with anyone else.

The cure for envy is charity and kindness. We see in Jesus’ instruction on the vine that we are all part of Him, that His father cares for each of us, and that we need to be pruned from time-to-time. In pruning we feel some pain and that is our tool to overcome envy – to take the time to really know our neighbor, understand them, and support them in their struggles, to feel their pain. To do so with kindness and in the end to be truly fruitful

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood

The words above are taken from the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 20, verse 28. St. Paul is meeting with the elders – the Bishop and leadership of the Church in Ephesus. Paul speaks of how he was plotted against, how he held to the truth, and how he preached repentance. Paul focused on the example he set. He is telling the leadership to follow that example – to live it. In other letters, Paul spoke of how he worked for his own bread, how he battled temptations, and how he went willingly into the unknown for Jesus.

Many Roman Catholic faithful have been shocked and disturbed by recent and past revelations of evil doing, abuse, and how those acts have been covered over/covered up for decades. You may be among them, asking: ‘What happened to the example laid down by Paul and the other Apostles?’

All Christian faithful are supposed to live, first are foremost, the life of Jesus. We are all called to walk in the footsteps of the Blessed Virgin and all the saints. Paul did that! We ask again: ‘Shouldn’t the leadership of the worldwide Roman Church be on the same page?’

We feel for you and are sad for your experience. It is heartbreaking to have one’s trust broken repeatedly, to see one’s role models and leaders fall so hard by their own fault.

You may feel conflicted because we are all taught to forgive, to reconcile, but we know there are lines we cannot cross. We know that calls to prayer and fasting among the faithful laity are not enough. Real change is needed now. Meetings months from now isn’t soon enough. Committees and focus groups cannot be left to debate issues without real resolution. Vows of sorrow and pleas for forgiveness do not really change anything unless it is followed by action and significant change. You do not want to just sit in a pew for weeks, months, and years awaiting change. No reasonable person would.

Brothers and sisters,

We offer you an invitation. If you are looking to get away, to take a break for awhile, we can help. We offer you that break, a time away for peace, quiet, and prayer. We offer you solid Catholic worship and a chance to take a step away for healing.

We are not asking you to join our parish, or to leave the Roman Church. Come, pray and worship in surroundings that are comfortable and safe. Then, when you are ready, go back to start anew.

Note that Roman Catholics are allowed to receive the sacraments in our parish under the provisions of Canon 844.2 of the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law. Canon 844.2 states that the sacraments are lawfully received from a priest in the National Catholic Church: “Whenever necessity requires, or, a genuine spiritual advantage requires it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ’s faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a [Roman] Catholic minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-[Roman] Catholic ministers in whose churches these sacraments are valid.”

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

The month of November is dedicated to remembering our dearly departed. As I reflect on this month, I cannot help but pause to consider what will happen to me. I do not do this to be morbid or to dwell on dark things, in fact I try to focus on those I will leave behind. I guess that’s one of those habits of a part time genealogist. I also like to annoy my family by telling them the songs I would like played at the post funeral repast. The one song I would love to have played is “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.” Any version is fine: Bob Dylan, Guns N’ Roses, or Eric Clapton. I particularly like Warren Zevon’s version or the Polish version by Babsztyl – “Pukając do nieba bram.” We often feel we are standing just outside heaven’s door. We stand there knocking. This takes two forms. One form of knocking is the kind we do every day – looking for reasons, seeking help, trying to get to an answer. The other form of knocking is the one we anticipate doing. What it will be like when I get there. Will I be left on the porch, at the gate, knocking and waiting? The hardest thing to get in our walk of faith is the sort of confidence that tells us ‘the door will be open.’ Yet, that is what Jesus promises us. The words above, taken from Matthew, Chapter 7, are the start of His promise. Jesus goes on to say: “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” He goes on to describe how our Heavenly Father will provide good to those who ask. He didn’t say these things so we would wonder or be fearful. In the Polish version, the singer cries out: Błagam Panie otwórz mi Zanim mrok pochłonie mnie. [I beg You, Lord, open the door Before darkness consumes me.] As we face this month of memory, and perhaps some self-reflection, let us take time to ask Jesus to reinforce our confidence. Let us realize we are never outside the door. We don’t have to knock, He has already opened the door for us.

Our newsletter discusses the month of November, the remembrance of our dearly departed, and includes a memorial for our former Pastor, Rt. Rev. śp. Stanley Bilinski, who entered his eternal rest just as the month began. Taking a simultaneously somber and hopeful approach, our newsletter covers events throughout the month. We prepare for the mailing of our Valentine’s Raffle tickets, the events of Advent, and two beautiful reflections on sharing our faith – plus one positive missionary step each of us can take. We also wish everyone a great Thanksgiving. Consider using the prayer included in the Newsletter.

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

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Did you ever wonder why we do what we do at church? Not the Holy Mass as an act of God directed worship or educating our youth as God has commanded so that they may have knowledge of the fullness of God’s love – those things are pretty straightforward. No, I mean the investments we make in church infrastructure for the future. Since the beginning of 2012, we have taken on twenty-two major infrastructure projects. This month we are replacing the entire sidewalk along the side of the church and have made major repairs to the church hall floor with the entire floor soon to be updated. Do you wonder why? If it were about dedication to just a building, or to memories, it would not be a wise investment. After all, what is a church without people, or memories without people to share them with. Grabbing onto Paul’s Letter to Timothy, we find the real reason for investing. It is about you! Paul exhorts us to guard the good treasure entrusted to us. We have Jesus in our midst and we have you in our family. The Holy Spirit guides us in what we do so that you may have a place, a home, and a family. A place to belong. We invest – we invest so the church is there for you – we invest so you may belong to and rejoice in being God’s precious treasure.

Join us this September as we celebrate brotherly love, take up a collection for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and welcome you to a ‘Place to Belong’ on Back-to-Church Sunday, September 17th. There are lots of activities, a new kids corner, and best of all, a true sense of belonging.

You may view and download a copy of our September 2017 Newsletter right here.

The 4th Schenectady Out of the Darkness Community Walk is a walk to fight suicide. The walk will take place on Saturday, September 30th starting at the Pavilion in Central Park, Schenectady, New York. Check-in starts at 12pm and the opening program at walk starts at 1pm. You can register at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The on-time/early newsletter record goes on… Well sort of, posted here a few days later but delivered in church on the 29th.

December – that time for going to church for Christmas. St. Paul told us that through the Church something amazing will happen in our lives. Going to church is great,but becoming through Church is so much more. Check it out.

December continues our Advent journey of preparation and expectation. Tons of news on so many great events (2 dinners, Christmas preparation, St. Nicholas, Parish Committee nominations – get your name in. Get clued in by reading through the newsletter.

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

LentColor

Lent began with Ash Wednesday, February 18th. Holy Mass with the blessing and distribution of ashes took place at 7pm on the 18th. We invite you to join with us in fellowship and worship throughout Lent in Schenectady as we have the opportunity to not only look back, but look forward. We will explore these important questions throughout Lent: Am I living the way I should really live? and How can I come to new life? This Lent Christ calls us to discover a new motive for living. To answer those questions.

We are called to live as people challenged to be changed. We have the opportunity this Lent to change through faith in Jesus. The answer to: Am I living the way I should really live? is living as:

  • changed to no longer live for myself.
  • changed to no longer see with worldly eyes.
  • changed because I am reconciled and forgiven.
  • changed because I can truly see and recognize what God is doing in my life.
  • changed and empowered to take action and bring the challenge to be changed to others.

As we not only look back but truly focus forward let us allow our Lenten practices to come to grips with God’s challenge to be changed:

  • In small ways by fasting and abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent as we abstain from meats on those days as an act of sacrifice. By charity through our directed giving program that provides gifts of food helping those in our local community. By prayer at Stations of the Cross prayed every Friday in Lent at 7pm. By worship at Holy Mass every Sunday at 9:30am or 11:30am.
  • In seeing that sin and the world hold no more power over us because we have God’s grace.
  • In big ways by changing the direction of our lives and coming to understand what life is really all about. It is life fully lived in Jesus’ Good News. Repented, believing, having faith in Jesus and through living the way I really must live. Coming to new life.

February tends to remind us of our loves and our obligation to love. It presents an opportunity to renew our love toward God and to give thanks for the abundant unconditional love we receive from Him. This February we enter into the Pre-Lenten season of Septuagesima, hold our Outrageous Valentine’s Raffle, and begin the season of Lent. Remember too that we now have an expand Holy Mass schedule and find tons of great information in our Newsletter. Come be lavished with abundant love in your church – right here in Schenectady.

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

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