If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

December 2011, a stage jam packed with artifacts, boxes, materials, technology, bric-a-brac, and everything else. A counting room, two sacristies, choir loft, closet, and an odd side room off the parish hall similarly situated. It took months, but much of it was reorganized, labeled, filed, sent to the diocesan and general Church archives, and some simply recycled or discarded. But some of it… it ended up in that odd side room off the parish hall awaiting a decision. Here we are in February 2021, nearly ten years later and the time is now. That, my brothers and sisters is what Pre-Lent and our walk through Lent is all about. It is about assessing what we have, the stuff in our lives that stands as clutter between us and God. The amazing thing about our Lord and God is that He has no clutter, no obstacle – He is ever available to us. We, on the other hand tend to have stuff that gets in our way to Him. Over years of Pre-Lenten and Lenten seasons we have worked to remove those obstacles. Yet we still have those set aside rooms where there are lasting issues, stuff remaining between now and paradise. It is time to diligently set to cleaning out those things that stand between where we are and where we must be as Jesus’ disciples. Once we identify the clutter, let us take steps to clean it out and discard what gets in the way. Those things in us await a decision. They nag at us, will you cling to me, the clutter and mess, or will you give me up? Now is the time to clear out.

February is here and we are celebrating the Pre-Lenten season of Septuagesima and preparing ourselves for the beginning of the Great Lent. 

Lent in our 100th year as a parish gives us amply opportunity of reflect on what we must clean out so there is room for what Jesus has prepared for us.

We have an incredibly busy month ahead.

This month we focus on Jeremiah the Prophet and the Spiritual Works of Mercy in our discipleship journey. We hold our annual meeting, a tradition and obligation instituted by those who organized our parish – honoring each person’s voice and vote in the governance of the parish and the management of its funds. We hold our annual month long Valentine’s Raffle event. We celebrate Scout Sunday and also encourage you to apply for music scholarships, and share a reflection on “Being a Light in a Dark World.” Don’t forget about our weekly “Together in Faith and Love” Zoom get-togethers.

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

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.

Here we are, eight days into the forty day celebration of Christmas, and one day into 2021 and the celebration of our one-hundredth anniversary as a parish. Celebration is what it is all about. Some people might find that trite. With so much suffering and evil in the world, how can you talk about celebrating? Do you remember that line from the beginning of Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, the businessman saying, “How can they talk about Christmas when there is so much unhappiness in the world?” We could certainly focus on the bad and let that be our motivating force, but why, when we have so much to celebrate? Why, when we hold the greatest gift of all time? Our celebration is founded on the most important event in history – the incarnation of God as man in Jesus. God has come among us, to dwell with us and to remain with us. God gave His all as sacrifice and atonement for our sins, to free us. God remains among us to lead and inspire us, and to build up His Holy Church, His beacon of light in the world and right here in Schenectady. We therefore have every right and duty to celebrate. You see, it is not that we ignore the bad, the suffering, and the pain around us, but that we have the answer and antidote to it – Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have the hands, minds, and hearts to address it. It is why we were organized one hundred years ago and why we continue to work today, as church right here in Schenectady. So, brothers and sisters, celebrate this day and every day, give thanks to God for His gifts, and be His light into the future.

Welcome to the new year and our new newsletter.

We start by kicking-off the celebration of our 100th Anniversary as a parish, here in Schenectady. Read some of the history. We also start another year focused on Discipleship. Join us for an upcoming virtual discipleship retreat. We take this opportunity to express thanks to so many for their hard work and awesome generosity over the past year. See our new Writer’s Corner featuring a poem by Francine Farina published for the first time. Want to share something? Send it our way.

Check out all this and more including our schedule for the remaining days of the forty day Christmas season. All here in our January 2021 Newsletter.

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.

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

Revelation 14:12

We start the month of November, as always, with a Solemnity honoring all the saints. Revelation 14:12 challenges the saints to endurance in keeping the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. If there was ever a year in which we have been called to endurance it was this one. What is this saying to us and what can we learn from this? Younger people might say: “I’m gonna hang tough for Jesus, suck it up and stick it out,” but that glorifies our abilities outside of Jesus, saying I can do it on my own. That is not our call, the call to those who would be saints. Rather, we are called to trust fully in Jesus. ‘Here is a call’ is an announcement pointing to the faith of Jesus. It’s the faith of Jesus that must live within us and be our power to face life’s trials. If we focus on ourselves instead of our Savior we set ourselves up for failure. We pose as hardened spiritual Rambos. That promotes self-trust and pretending. Human perseverance is a strength for sure, and God can use it, but that is not enough. God can’t do anything with us when we’re trusting in our own strength or leaning on our own understanding. Paul got it and told the Corinthians to rejoice in weaknesses. For when I am weak, then I am strong. The key to enduring the unendurable is to lift our eyes off present circumstances and ourselves, and to focus on what the Lord will bring about even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us. These challenges and hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us who are called to be saints. What Revelation is saying and what we can learn is this: That Jesus living within us is our true strength, the center of our lives. He calls us to rely on Him and to endure in that truth so that His light shines out of us. Jesus is the treasure within us, called to be saints, with a hope beyond hope and a blessed future.

Welcome to November’s newsletter. This month we focus on the saints and pray for our loved ones in their journey to heaven. There are plenty of thanks to offer as we approach Thanksgiving — so much good has been accomplished by our endurance. We begin planning for our 100th Anniversary, observed in 2021. We invite you to participate in planning, There is a great reflection on what happens on November 4th; what is the Christian to do post election? Also stay tuned for Valentine’s Raffle tickets and our planning for Advent which begins November 29th.

Read about all it in our November 2020 Newsletter.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

This month, along with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Christian Family, we also celebrate Heritage Sunday (October 18th). Why? Reading through the documents created in the Church’s organizing years we see so many references to humanity, established in nations, to be bearers and sharers of the gifts God has given them. In the Tenant and Aims Document it is recorded: “The most important objective of the Church… is to maintain, enrich and develop the life of God in the soul of man…” Likewise, the Confession of Faith, our Creedal Document. Familiarize yourself with these statements, for they are a call to us and to the world. We are to recognize the dignity and value of each person and nation in their contribution toward helping us know God. These documents from the early 1900’s a sure cure to the inequality we still face today. We are not called to division, but to celebrate each other in unity and equality. We celebrate heritage because God has given us gifts, attributes, and experiences that when shared adds to our collective knowledge of God. A paraphrase of the Preamble to our Constitution sums this up: “Religion is the source of life and regeneration. Religion [that] possess the character of a nation [transmits innate] moral principles from which we achieve real freedom and stature.” As we celebrate let us each experience God more fully in each other and in what we share of ourselves.

October, our next jam packed month of events and opportunities. We bless pets on Sunday, October 4th. We celebrate the Solemnity of the Christian Family, a feast unique to our Church as well as Heritage Sunday. We will pray the Rosary every Wednesday evening in church and virtually. And … Fr. Jim is in the kitchen cooking up a yummy take-out/take-away American Goulash Dinner for Sunday, October 25th. Your efforts at discipleship and evangelism are drawing people to church – keep up the good work in the ministries you each have. There are some great prayers for family and our nation and a wonderful reflection on Certainty in God.

Read about all it in our October 2020 Newsletter.

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.

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.

Proverbs 21:15

I remember those hot summers in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. They were marked by an unease due to the social unrest around me. I used to be a real news junkie and would watch the process of protest unfold each night. Between the ages of 6 and 9 it scared me, and it also marked my psyche and life. Those hot summers of protest did engender change. Voices that needed to be heard were heard. Now they are back. They are needed to make a difference now. The promise of past decades slowed to a crawl and needs to be bought closer to completion. Perhaps it is our general comfort with the way things are. We get used to the status quo. No matter how much we say we like excitement, and things to be different, we don’t. This is why scripture is important. This is why we must study what God has said on the subject, look to God’s design, and then set to work to close the gap between God’s way and what is. Jesus tells us: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” We must live that. We need to ensure action for justice and dignity.

Summer and we have plans to re-open for public worship in our parish on Sunday, July 19th at 10am. Take a look at the required guidelines. We can do this by working together. 

We had a busy June and July/August look to be just as busy. We are looking forward to Virtual Kurs and to re-opening for public worship. We look forward with hope and continue to be the faithful church at home and together.

Read about all it in our July/August 2020 Newsletter.

Be anxious for nothing

Philippians 4:6

St. Paul is writing to the Philippians. He starts in Chapter 4:6-7 by saying, Be anxious for nothing. Now we might say, good advice Paul, thanks, but you do not understand. After all, we have disease, civil unrest, the problem of generational prejudice, murder bees, plus a stadium sized asteroid making a close pass at earth. How can I not be anxious? Paul is not writing in a vacuum. Paul’s command, Be anxious for nothing is not an option. All of our undue cares intrude into an arena that belongs to God alone. Having undue care knocks God out of His Father role and makes us father instead of child. Let God be Father. Paul goes on to tell us to pray to God, to ask, for there are no areas of our lives that are of no concern to God. Pray with confidence, thanksgiving, and receive peace.

June and warmer weather. The world continues to change – and some of that change has long been required. Read our Commitment to Dignity.

June also brings thoughts of our heavenly, spiritual, and earthly fathers. We are called to action. Our newsletter contains information on various summer events being held virtually including PolishFest, our Men’s Spiritual Retreat, and Kurs. As of now we plan to reopen on July 19th with one Holy Mass and with certain required conditions. We will do so responsibly and with great care and only if the situation continues to improve! We look forward with hope and continue to be the faithful church at home and together.

Read about all it in our June 2020 Newsletter.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

I am hungry.

We previously considered so much to be a part of normal routine. Much of it now fades away, and rightly so. There are certainly things in normal routine that we have learned are not all that important. We have reprioritized our cares. For each of us, church may have been another ordinary routine. Now we cannot gather as we did. We, even the servers and musicians present with me, cannot receive at the table. The Fast of Lent has carried forward, for we are deprived of the Bread of Life, the Cup of Salvation. This is a hunger pain beyond comprehension. It hurts! Jesus pointed out that the hungry would be satisfied, that those of us who really get it and weep now (you know I am emotional, but now I tend to cry at the slightest thing), will laugh. The sacrifice carries on. The mystical union is not ended, it will not end. The bread is prepared. Feel the hunger and cry now in prayer knowing that we will be satisfied and laugh. He promised!

May is here. The world is different. Our newsletter contains helpful hints for remote participation in parish activities and words of hope and encouragement so needed. In May we honor the Blessed Virgin, our moms, continue our celebration of Easter, honor the members of our parish from the former Good Shepherd parish and receive a special gift from Holy Spirit parish. We look forward with hope and continue to be the faithful church both at home and together. Check out our plans for Memorial Day as well.

Read about all it in our May 2020 Newsletter.