And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

I was listening to religious radio the other Sunday, just after Thanksgiving, and the commentator mentioned that we are now in the Christmas Season. Now, I am not a Negative Nelly, correcting everyone for such mistakes. I am happy that they recognize the need to celebrate the season. The better question, Why the rush?

If you are old enough you might remember the days when the decorations were put up on Christmas Eve or in the week before Christmas. Folks prepared for Christmas by living with a sense of anticipation. Anticipation – the old ketchup commercials where they sang Anticipation while the ketchup slowly trickled out of the bottle. Anticipation like in the heart of a child awaiting Christmas morning, a bride her wedding, parents the birth of a child. Those and many other occasions we each know very well.

We Catholics know something of anticipation. In every Holy Mass we await the living presence of the Lord Jesus and our receiving Him in Holy Communion. We live seasonally anticipating the celebration of the key moments in our Lord’s life which encompass our salvation history. It does not all happen right away. Advent calls us to a spirit of anticipation. The Holy Church guides us through this season focusing on our Lord’s coming and echoing Psalm 130: I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.

Let us imagine our keeping of this time of anticipation. What awaits us? A grand celebration of forty days beginning Christmas Day and lasting until February 2nd. We will together celebrate those moments of salvation history that focus on family, the impoverished that first met Jesus, and His revelation to the nations. On the other hand we can meet Christmas exhausted, throw out the tree the next day, and miss all Jesus revealed to us. So, let us celebrate by keeping this time of anticipation for if we do the peace of Christ will indeed reign in our hearts.


Think December is busy? You’ll be right. Our schedule is jam packed with activities that help us anticipate Christmas and the Christmas Season. Advent begins a new Church year. We have our Charity Organ Concert on December 3rd at 4pm to support Blessed virgin Mary’s fire recovery fund. Come share in our annual Vigil / Wigilia Dinner on December 10th. Rorate Masses (Holy Mass by candlelight only celebrated Wednesdays at 7:30am) throughout Advent help us prepare. Come help us decorate the church in our Greening of the Church. Read a portion of St. Ephraim the Syrian’s Stanzas on the Nativity and engage in charitable giving of food and clothing for those in need. Too much to mention here, so check it all out in our December 2023 Newsletter.

Ready!

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.

Thank you for joining as we celebrate, once again, our Lord’s first coming to be God with us, and as we continue to await His return in glory.

On this Christmas I would like us to consider a bit of literature and one character. The literature: Charles Dickens A Christmas Carole, the character, Ebeneezer Scrooge.

A Christmas Carole has been made into a movie at least forty-six times. It has been further adapted, most recently as “Spirited” on Apple TV.

The book really should be read for all the nuance one misses in the movies and stage plays. Its many transformations cause us to not just a loss of nuance, but more importantly the transformation of characters, most especially Scrooge into various personas not at all in keeping with who he was intended to be.

Now my favorite rendition, and you can find it on YouTube, is the 1951 version staring Alister Sim as Scrooge. What you will notice about this Scrooge is that his attitude toward everything in filled with an integrity of character. Almost everything we need to know about who he is and his example for us is in the first minute of the movie.

Scrooge is walking through the halls of the London exchange. The narrator tells us that Marley had died, Scrooge’s name was put on the Exchange, and he was successful in whatever he touched. He meets two men of business. We will see them later. They ask if he is leaving early to keep Christmas. He tells them point blank: “I am not in the habit of keeping Christmas.” They then ask why he is leaving early. He tells them that it is because Christmas keeps men from business. They respond that it is just the nature of things: “Ants toil, grasshoppers sings and play.”

Let’s unpack this. Scrooge is the steadfast one here. He knows who he is, and he lives it fully no matter what anyone thinks or says. We see this in his next encounters with the debtor, the children on the street singing, the men working for charity, and his nephew. 

Scrooge’s opposite are the men of businesses. They could care less about Christmas, it is just a thing, the way things are, so while they would rather be doing business, they go along. They do not believe enough in anything to stand for it. They are hypocrites. I mentioned we would get back to them. They appear several times, but last after Scrooge has died in the vision of the future. The one, when asked if he is going to the funeral, says ‘only if he gets fed.’

People of God, Christ Jesus has come and will come again. He is in or midst, among us. The question for us on this Christmas is: How will we keep Christmas?

At the end of the movie the narrator tells us that Scrooge, now transformed by grace, was better than his word. In this we see our call to transformation. A man 100% focused with complete integrity on the world and business has become a man 100% focused with complete integrity on walking Jesus’ gospel path. 

Can we be that transformed person right now? If so, let us then keep the light that has dawned for us and share that light with 100% commitment and integrity, not just this day, but every day, and God will bless us, everyone.

  • Wednesday, December 21st, 7:30am: Feast – St. Thomas the Apostle and Rorate Holy Mass – celebrated in candlelight.
  • Saturday, December 24th, 4pm: Vigil of the Nativity. Holy Mass for Children and Youth.
  • Sunday, December 25th, Midnight: Solemnity of the Nativity. Pasterka/Mass of the Shepherds. A High Holy Mass, offered with incense and chanting.
  • Sunday, December 25th, 10am: Holy Mass of Christmas Day.
  • Monday, December 26th, Noon: Feast, St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr. Holy Mass.
  • Tuesday, December 27th, Noon: Feast – St. John Apostle and Evangelist. Holy Mass with blessing and distribution of wine.
  • Wednesday, December 28th, Noon: Commemoration – Holy Innocents. Holy Mass.
  • Saturday, December 31st, Noon: Solemnity of Holy Family. Holy Mass.
  • Sunday, January 1st, 10am and Noon: Solemnity of the Circumcision. Holy Mass.
  • Monday, January 2nd, Noon: Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus. Holy Mass.
  • Friday, January 6th, Noon: Solemnity of the Epiphany. Holy Mass with blessing of incense and chalk. Epiphany Home Visitations/KolÄ™dy begin.
  • Sunday, January 8th, 10am and Noon: Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds. Holy Mass.
  • Monday, January 9th, Noon: Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Holy Mass.

For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade

Through much of Advent we read from the Prophet Isaiah. In those readings we often hear a reference to the poor and how God will save the poor. Later in the Christmas season we will hear Jesus quote Isaiah 61:1 when He gets up to proclaim the Word and teach in the Synagogue: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. We might think to ourselves, well isn’t Jesus just great with the poor! Think of how He helps them and causes us to exert our charity in helping the poor. He lays out all this stuff about us doing for the least of these, thus doing it for Him. That work for the poor helps us get to heaven. The Church, in the model of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, established the Corporal Works of Mercy focused on the poor.

What we tend to miss in all this discussion of the poor is the fact that Jesus did not specifically come to address the economically poor. Remember, He told us: For you always have the poor with you. (Matthew 26:11). If He did not come to address the economically poor, then who did He come to help? The answer is simple enough, Me. Jesus came and gave His all for me. I started in a place that was very poor – my humanity – and Jesus took on my poorness, entered into my poverty – to raise me and many on high, up to the very heaven He came from. He sacrificed His life to make me rich, a co-heir with Him to all His Heavenly Father has.

As we walk through Advent and finally gaze on the representation of Jesus in the poverty of the stable, let us remember where we were before we came to faith in Jesus and how very rich we are now. Then let us act! Certainly, to act means to care for the economically poor as required of us by the gospel of Jesus, but also beyond that to lift up those who are what we were, poor without Christ Jesus. Let us use this new Church Year to invite them into the Kingdom, to share in the treasure we have, to be rich with us.


Welcome to our December 2022 Newsletter and the journey through Advent to the start of the Christmas season (all forty days of Christmas starting Christmas Day). As you can imagine, there is tons going on.

The OpÅ‚atki / Christmas Wafers and Advent Wreath are blessed. The Church’s youth are gathering the evening of December 2nd. We have our Seniorate Advent gathering and youth meeting on December 3rd. There is daily Holy Mass at Noon and Rorate Holy Masses every Wednesday of Advent at 7:30am. Join us for our Wigilia / Vigil Dinner on December 11th. Help us decorate (green the Church) on December 18th. We have a full schedule of Holy Masses for Christmas (the traditional three) including the Shepherd’s Holy Mass at Midnight – yes, a real Midnight Mass right here in Schenectady. Join in our giving efforts, enjoy a concert by the Thursday Musical Club, offer a Memory Cross in honor of someone you wish to remember this Christmas season, and join us in giving thanks for all who do so much on behalf of the parish. Above all, remember to keep centered on the Holy Eucharist.

All that and more in our December 2022 Newsletter.

Called to Live Anew

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me… He has sent me

Anew – it is a word we will focus on for years to come. Now is the time for our next great step together, to call people anew to knowing, loving, and serving the Lord and His Holy Church right here at this parish.

At the beginning of today’s gospel, Luke, the scientist, addresses Theophilus (translated literally as “Friend of God”), relating to him the gospel message he received.

Luke relates the gospel, not for the sake of telling a story, or even creating a documentary on the life of Jesus (he wasn’t working for the History or Discovery channels), but rather for the purpose of Theophilus’ certainty. He was sending the message so that energized with it, Theophilus would live out and proclaim the gospel message, drawing others to it.

We need the same certainty. We have the same charge.

In regrettable ways many Christians have become bystander faithful, documentary viewing devotees, and going through the motions followers, believers without passion or resolve. Many have forgotten the gospel charge – to go out and proclaim it for the gathering in of fellow disciples.

It must not be so for us. We need to feel within ourselves the Gospel’s confidence and certainty. Armed with its confidence and certainty we then walk the gospel path ever more closely. We proclaim that gospel ever more boldly. We become like Theophilus – each of us a friend of God and witness in our community.

To live life anew, life in the Kingdom already present for us, we must set confidently to work, the work shown us this very day. 

Like Ezra and Nehemiah, we are to call the people in, call them together, and place before them the glory of the gospel word and way – and then celebrate. We are to take the gifts St. Paul reminds us we have each received in different type and proportion and use them with passion for the building up of the Kingdom. By our work and word many are to know, love, and serve the Lord in His Holy Church, members of His body.

Because we are the friends of God, the Theophiloi, residents of and workers in the Kingdom, armed with the great gifts of the Holy Spirit, and charged by Jesus Himself to go out and make disciples, we must take the certainty of the gospel seriously and set to work. We must be bold in our proclamation – sometimes in subtle ways, other times ingeniously, still other times with great verve, but always confidently.

The words Jesus spoke today are not just Self-referential. They apply to us. The Spirit of the Lord is upon us. We are anointed. We are sent.

Called to live anew!

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

Anew – it is a word we will focus on for years to come. Now is the time for our next great step together, to call people anew to knowing, loving, and serving the Lord and His Holy Church right here at this parish.

How do you recollect time? Most people see time as a linear progression, past, present, and future. We could draw an arrow from one moment in our lives to the next, event to event. Did you know that God sees time differently, that Jesus came to change our conception of time and even place?

That is true. Jesus’ birth marked the start of a new age – the age of the Kingdom. In His Baptism, which we celebrated last week, Jesus marked out our change – how we are to enter His place and time, the Kingdom of God.

For many Christians, the Kingdom is something afar off. We have time. If we are sinning, we can go to confession tomorrow, or next Sunday. If we need to repent and live changed lives, walking the gospel path much more closely and realistically – radically, well we can work on that. That is a false notion. We have our facts wrong. The Kingdom will not come someday but is here now. We are in it, and we are called to live changed now, immediately.

What St. Paul tells us in his writing on baptism is true. We died with Christ in our baptism and so we have been raised with Him to life anew. We are no longer living according to the world’s time and priorities, stumbling from moment to moment, place to place like the lost. Rather, we are living a changed reality in which we have great work to do, Kingdom work. We must set to it now.

Kingdom work comes down to what Jesus showed us at Cana in Galilee. It is about changed perspectives and lives anew.

The changing of water into wine isn’t just a one-off miracle. It is not just a moment along a timeline. It is rather a foreshadowing of the eternal change that comes when the wine is made His blood. It is a foretelling of the way we are changed in Jesus. 

When we share in the Eucharistic moment in a short time, the changing of bread and wine into His body and blood, we literally join with Jesus in His timeless reality. the ever-present Kingdom where we also reside. We receive abundant grace for our work.

Our Kingdom reality is where the Spirit’s gifts, given to each of us in different form and measure, are to be implemented. We are residing in God’s time and place and our mission is an imperative command to declare the Kingdom and invite others into it; to live changed. 

Called to Live Anew

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying

Anew – it is a word we will focus on for years to come. We together have spent the last decade in a lot of hard work building up this parish, strengthening it, readying it. Now is the time for the next great step, to call people anew to knowing, loving, and serving the Lord and His Holy Church.

Today we are called to situational awareness and the actions we must take.

The gospel passage from St. Luke paints a picture of what occurred on the day of Jesus’ baptism. However, in this account, the discussion between Jesus and John is missing. Also, the actual moment of baptism is missing. We must infer what happened by starting at the after-the-baptism moment.

What we can take from this account is the fact that John baptized a lot of people that day. Jesus, like the rest, stood in line and entered the Jordan to be baptized. Afterward, He, like the rest, filed out of the river and went to the riverbank to pray.

The rest of the gospel focuses on the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God and the revelation of the God as Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit.

This short gospel snippet, about three-quarters of a single sentence, and awareness of our situations, is a call to action for us.

Now imagine that line at the Jordan. Can you picture yourself standing there in line with Jesus? It would be so cool, so excellent to be there with Him. Many were, perhaps not realizing Who stood in line with them.

We are called to be situationally aware, alert wherever we venture. The bank, shows, movies, the supermarket, work, social events, and even theme parks. In many of those places we face the prospect of standing in line. As such, we who are baptized are called to be Jesus in that line. We represent Him and that carries a responsibility to help the people around us find life anew in Jesus.

You know how it is. In line everyone has eyes cast down, perhaps hoping no one will notice them. Let’s just get the task done and get out. We have the power to turn feelings of apartness and separateness into moments with Jesus. Simply, say hello, how are you. Pass a smile and offer a simple blessing – ‘May God bless you today.’ Then let Jesus take over. Try it!

What happens as we stand in line bearing the image of Jesus, or in whatever situation we find ourselves, is the offering of our time to God in accord with our after-the-baptism call. Let us be situationally aware, not in fear and apprehensiveness, not in trepidation, but in the hopefulness and joy of being born anew as we call others to the same newness of life in Jesus.

Blessed Be His Name!

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

How does it feel to be 101 years old? Pretty good I think, echoing Bishop Bernard’s message at our celebratory Holy Mass of Thanksgiving this past October.

Indeed, another year is dawning as we will hear in our recessional hymn. That hymn reminds us of all we must do as we enter our second centenary. We can repeat with the hymn our very heartfelt request to the Father, that the year and century ahead will be a time of working and waiting with God. A time of learning, trusting, mercies, faithfulness, graces, gladness, progress, praise, service, and training all while leaning on our Father’s breast as we anew prove His presence right here in our community.

It is a special grace that we begin our new century with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus which fell on the first Sunday of this new year, 2022.

Anew – that is a word we will focus on in a very particular way for years to come. We together have spent the last decade in a lot of hard work building up this parish, strengthening it, readying it. Now is the time for the next great step.

We are indeed strong and ready to undertake a great mission – making the Holy Name of Jesus known once again by our evangelistic efforts.

I can recount some of what I used to encounter growing up. The Name of Jesus was well known and was respected. In fact, we understood each other often in relationship to the church or other place of worship we attended. 

For example, walking into a Synagogue, I knew what to do. The last time I walked into one and asked for a Kippah/Yarmulka, the Rabbi was surprised, perhaps not expecting that sign of respect. In my church, people who came for special events like weddings and funerals, even if they were not Catholic, knew to stand, sit, and kneel at appropriate times. That does not happen much anymore. The Name Jesus does not elicit respect, not out of disrespect or meanness, but rather out of a lack of knowledge. So, we have work to do.

We are called to the work of the first apostles and disciples. We are asked to bring the light of Jesus’ Holy Name into every corner of our world. We are to offer hope by our witness to the Holy Name of Jesus. It really is not difficult. We have the grace of God with us; that gives us confidence. Speak of and spread Jesus’ Holy Name as a personal mission. Welcome people to experience Jesus in simple discussions. Try this key: Ask people what matters to them, then discuss how God fits into that in our lives. If we do this, we will bless His Name.

And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child

At our three Holy Masses of Christmas we saw references over and over again to Jesus as the light of the world, the light of heaven breaking into the world to change it forever.

We can certainly see how the Lord’s love and mercy have changed us. We no longer live in fear. Our life is eternal, the gates of heaven and all its light are opened to us. We have forgiveness of sin, we have a new relationship with God and to each other.

We who were once strangers and afar off are bound together in a new family, the family of the Church. We are given two important missions by God that spread the light of Christ.

Our first mission is to grow in our personal sanctification, to become more like Jesus, to walk better in His ways. We receive power and strength to do that through the many graces we receive both sacramentally and in living our everyday walk of faith.

Our other first mission, for it is equal to the necessity for sanctification, is to build the Kingdom of God right here and right now.

On Christmas 1919 Bishop Hodur addressed his congregation and spoke of the gap between the very materialistic view of the world, a world only concerned with bodily needs and wants, and the Savior Who came to build up both the body and the soul. He called this materialistic focus an illness, for the worldly do not perceive the wholeness God offers us in Jesus. They limit themselves by their deafness to His word and way.

Jesus pointed to the Kingdom and called us to build. We are to call people out of where they are, out of deafness, to what they can be, not only as individuals, but as a society.

This is the example we celebrate today on this very special Solemnity in our Holy Church – the Humble Shepherds, the Ubogich Pasterzy.

The Shepherds whose life was limited to the care of earthly material things, their flocks and pay and duties, encountered heaven. They met Christ Jesus their Lord and Messiah, God. They met Him as we meet Him each time we come to Holy Mass, participate, pray through the Eucharist, and receive Him. They were left with the same choice we all have. What will I do for my sanctification and for the building of the Kingdom?

The Shepherds set forth to announce and build the Kingdom. In the world’s eyes they remined poor, but in God’s eyes they became whole and rich. Let us decide to as well, as we renew our commitment to God’s mission for us. 

The people who walked in darkness
        have seen a great light;
    upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
        a light has shone.

Some of you may know that I like Bluegrass music, a very American expression of roots music. I couldn’t spend a Christmas without listening to Ralph Stanley’s, “Christmas Time’s A-Comin’.”

In Donna Ulisse’s Bluegrass album “All The Way To Bethlehem” you find a distinct focus on Jesus as the light of the world. In her music she walks us through the entire journey of God’s light coming into the world, from the Annunciation to the Visitation, Joseph’s dream, the journey to Bethlehem, the lack of lodging, Mary’s moment with the Baby Jesus, just she and He, the Angels’ proclamation, the star, the visit of the shepherds, and so much more. 

Tonight, all of heaven’s magnificent light broke into the world. All of God’s glory entered as a tiny sliver. That sliver came not to remain so, but to grow and spread. That light immediately began to grow and reveal Itself – from Mary, to Joseph, the shepherds, the Maji, the people of Judah and Jerusalem, the Samaritan towns, to the great sacrifice that delivers on all of God’s promises and opened all of heaven’s light to us. That light continues in the Holy Spirit who dwells in us so that we might be that light in the world. That is our charge, this day and for the ages to come.

Today we are limitless. We do not just recall the Light entering the world, we celebrate it. We proclaim it in song and in our time together in worship. We gather in our homes with friends and family around and tokens of our love for each other. We then take that light and spread it in limitless ways.

Today we recall and perhaps shed a tear or two for what was. That is ok. The next step, the next emotion and commitment must be to smile for what will be. In the end that is what this night is all about – a journey All The Way To Bethlehem – and returning with a smile for what will be, and our part in that work of light. Therefore, let your smile shine and your words as well – as we once again go forth to introduce a dark and tired world to the great light that is ours in Jesus the Lord.