Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - August 30

Dear Parishioners:

Several themes are emerging as the new season begins in our life as a Parish and a School Community: Faith, Family and Mercy.  We are being invited so respond to a call to be a Welcoming Community who draw others into an experience of God’s Love and Mercy.  We are disciples of Jesus and our lives are intended to proclaim the Good News of Christ’s Presence in the world.  While we need to attend to material realities, our true purpose is to serve as a bridge into the life of the Spirit for others.

Parents are responsible for the Faith of their children.  This means that their lives must show how to follow the Lord by example as well as through what is said.  “Actions speak louder than words.”  The wider community also has a duty to the next generation, reaching out to assist with the needs of the families who join us.  When our manner of welcome is inviting, we help them to realize that they belong.  This can lead to a deeper commitment to practice of the Faith.

All of us have been entrusted with the Gospel.  We are to hold it in trust for all who have not yet heard it in a way that draws them in.  “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you!” (I Timothy 6:20)

How do you witness your Faith?  Has your Family made a commitment to be welcoming and to be concerned with others’ needs?  How does God’s Mercy show through you?

Are there any “themes” emerging from your own prayer?  What is the Lord asking of you and your family this year?  What do you need to do for the Lord and for His Church? What are your neighbors and friends seeking that the Lord wants to offer to them through you?  How are you responding to the invitation to go deeper in your relationship with Jesus?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - August 23

Dear Parishioners:

Today is my 56th Birthday.  In some circles, that is still considered a young person.  In more and more circles, I am now a “Senior Citizen.”  To the children, it I am certainly “old.”  Many of my own elders have given me advice: “Don’t get old.”  Well, it is hard to put such advice into practice.  We do age.  The question is not whether time will have its way with us, but whether we will let time get the best of us.  Age is a question of “mind” over “matter”: If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.  Wisdom comes with age.

The Scriptures continue to challenge us, inviting us to put Faith into practice, accepting Jesus at His Word, though others may reject what He has to say.  We have been taught the Truth by Jesus through the Scriptures, and by the Church, which teaches us in the Name of Jesus, especially through the Sacraments.  Can you open yourself more to the “hard teachings” of the Church and come to understand their import?  Time will give way to Eternity at some point for all of us. Faith is the only bridge that can help us reach across to Eternity from the vantage of Time.  We are called to believe in an age that prides itself on its autonomy and that tries to secularize everything, that is, to redirect everything to the “stuff” of this world.  This is a challenge that we can meet, but we must do so together.

Each year, on my Birthday, I renew my pledge to “live a good life.”  Two weeks later, on the anniversary of my Baptism, I make a personal renewal to respond to the grace given to me by Christ through my Baptism.  I invite each of you to renew your own pledge to life and to grace.  Let the year ahead be truly a year of Family – spurred on by Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to our country on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families.  And let it open up to a Year of Mercy, called by Pope Francis to begin December 8th.  May your Family grow in Faith, Hope and Love, and may you be a sign of Mercy to all you meet!

This week, we welcome our students back to School.  We hope to have a great year full of fun and learning the ways of God.

As we listen to the Bread of Life Discourse from the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John, all are invited to renew and deepen their reverence for Jesus, the Bread of Life, as He offers Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist.

The Lord’s invitation to us is to follow Him and to stay faithful to Him even when others leave.  May we all stay close to Jesus by coming to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day and by welcoming others to know Him by the witness of our lives.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - August 16

Dear Parishioners:

How is your everyday life influenced by the fact that you believe in Eternal Life?  Do you live each day as if it will be your last on earth?  How do you see yourself in Eternity?

These questions may seem to be out of place depending upon your age.  If you consider yourself “young,” you may not want to consider these questions and put them off to a later time.  However, Jesus Himself invites us to open our eyes to the question of Eternity now.  It is not simply a matter of what happens at the end of our lives.  It is, rather, a question of how we respond to His invitation in the present moment.  Eternity and Time are intertwined.  How we live now has a direct bearing on how we will enter into Life Eternal.  Every choice we make has an impact on what we will be able to “do” in the face of the moment when we meet our Maker.

A choice to believe in Jesus and to take Him at His Word is to open to the Truth.  The Truth is always “bigger” than our own understanding.  If we are convinced that we are “right” and that we know better than the Church, then it is likely that we are being fooled.  If we submit humbly to Jesus and to His Church, we will discover that there is always more to learn.  We share in the Truth and we become a witness to the Truth because, through the grace of Christ and through the Sacraments we experience in the Church, the Truth lives in us. 

When we receive Eucharist, for example, with the proper disposition, and we become Jesus for the world.  We live forever because Jesus, Who is the Living Bread that comes down from Heaven, already lives in us and we in Him.  Jesus tells us that He is the Bread of Life and that He gives us His Flesh to eat for the life of the world.  Opening our minds and hearts to His teaching, we are already in touch with Eternity.  Taste and see the Goodness of the Lord!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - August 9

Dear Parishioners:

As we continue to reflect on the Eucharist and on our practice of the Catholic Faith in these times of rejection of Faith and pervasive public secularism, it is important for us to realize something central:  the Holy Eucharist is not a “thing.”  It IS the very Person of Jesus as He gives Himself to us.  Jesus IS the Bread of Life.  To receive Him means to welcome Him into our hearts and into our lives.  He is not a quiet guest.  Nor is He passive.  Once we let Him in, He will hound us until He gets all of us.  If you are not ready to allow Him free rein as Lord in your life, it is best to head for the hills….

Jesus speaks His Word and he invites and expects us to hear Him.  When we hear Him, we become capable of more than we have been before.  He feeds our minds and hearts as well as our bodies.  What we take into ourselves takes on a life of its own in us.  When an idea is God’s idea, it is creative.  It is strengthening.  It is nourishing in every way.  And it leads us to relate to the world differently that we have before.

This is a message that the world around us needs to hear.  It is the Truth that the world needs to see and experience in real persons who believe.  Faith is not something for the weak, but rather is the sign of strength and of an openness to a Wisdom that comes from above.  Who are the weak ones – those who set aside their Faith, the Faith that has been shared with them by the Church, in order to conform to the culture of our time, or those who are willing to reach for something greater than the world can offer?  Faith in the Eucharist calls for a full commitment.

We are called to be a community of Welcome.  First, we welcome God among us in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Then, we extend that welcome to others by our whole life, by what we say, what we do, and how we live.  Hospitality is the hallmark of a community that understands the Eucharist.  How are  you responding to the call to be a faithful disciple of  the Lord Jesus, the Bread of Life?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - August 2

Dear Parishioners:

The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian Life.  Jesus is the Savior Who feeds us with His own Body and Blood.  We receive in Holy Communion the very Substance of the Risen Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Our life itself flows from this Gift.  Our Catholic Faith has always held this and to be true to our Faith we must not only believe it theoretically, but we must put it into practice.  We are not only meant to have a Faith that is orthodox (“right believing”), but also have a Faith that involves “orthopraxy” (“right practice”).

Eucharist is Jesus Himself.  What was bread, fruit of the earth and work of human hands, is no longer bread, but the Bread of Life, the very Body of Christ, our Spiritual Food.  What was wine, fruit of the vine and work of human hands, is no longer wine, but the very Blood of Christ, the Chalice of Eternal Salvation, our Spiritual Drink.  It is not a mere symbol.  It is the Symbol and the Reality at the same time.  The Substance of the Incarnate Word is given to us as Food and Drink for our Salvation.

How do we show our Faith in the Eucharist?

We worship Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  We kneel before Him.  When we come into the church, we genuflect – bend the knee – to acknowledge Who He IS.

We prepare for reception of Holy Communion.  We confess serious sins in the Sacrament of Penance.  We fast for one full hour before we receive the Sacrament.  We adore the Lord as He becomes Present in the moment of Consecration and as He remains among us in the Tabernacle.

We seek to grow in Faith and in the grace of the Eucharist by putting into practice all that we are taught by Sacred Scripture and by the Church, practicing virtues and resisting vices.

As Catholics, we share our Faith with others and we try to help them understand how Holy the Eucharist is, by allowing them to see our reverence and by asking them to show proper respect for our Faith when they are with us at Mass.  In general, this means that we ask them not to go forward to receive Communion, but to ask the Lord for a Spiritual Communion as the Catholics go forward.  We invite them to share what we have in common, but to respect the differences between our Faith than theirs.

This also means that we ourselves do not receive if we are aware of grave sin or if we have failed to prepare by fasting.  It certainly means that we do not chew gum in church or go forward to receive with anything else in our mouths (no candy, cough drops or the like). 

It means that we make an Act of Thanksgiving after we have received the Eucharist and that we are silent in church when silence is called for.  It means that we return to the church from time to time to “make a visit” to the Lord in the Tabernacle or to spend time in adoration during times of Exposition.  It means we keep ourselves mindful of the Presence of the Lord in every Catholic Church that we happen to pass by.

How do you live your Faith in the Eucharist?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - July 26

Dear Parishioners:

Jesus calls all of us to live in communion with Him and one another.  The place we learn how to do this is the Liturgy.  Literally, “liturgy” means “the work of the people.”  It refers to the work that is done by a people in common for the sake of the common good.  In our time, we are clearly called to take what we receive from the Lord at the Liturgy and to share it with the world.

There is a major problem with this “setup” in our current experience.  I am sure that you can easily recognize what it is….  Many of the people among those “called to serve” are only rarely present at the Liturgy.  Families used to structure their lives around the weekly effort to live in relationship to the Church.  They would come to confession together on Saturday afternoons and have one particular Mass that they attended together as a family on Sunday mornings.  I offer praise and encouragement to the families that still follow this custom.  I realize that it is not always easy to arrange.

There are families who can be found at Mass each weekend, even if not all together at the same Mass, nonetheless at one or the other.  A number have taken up my invitation to bring me a bulletin from another church if they go to Mass somewhere else.  This too is worthy of praise.  Getting to Mass is the most important thing you can do as a family to keep yourselves Christ-centered.

For those who are not at Mass regularly: we welcome you when you are here and are happy the Mass is still on your radar of things to do.  We also invite and encourage you to put it more at the center of your routine.  Let the Mass determine your schedule rather than your schedule determine whether you go to Mass at all. 

Culturally, it seems to be in vogue that once or twice a month is good enough.  It is not.  The call of Scripture, Old and New Testament, is to put God first by weekly attendance at the Liturgy.  “Keep holy the Sabbath” means every week – for us as Catholics, Sunday Mass.  The Letter to the Hebrews (10:25) reminds us that we ought not to absent ourselves from the assembly (that is, gathering for Mass) as some do.  We are told that it was Jesus’ own custom to go to the synagogue every Sabbath and that whenever He was in Jerusalem, He would go to the Temple.  The Apostles and disciples of the Lord did the same and that is where our own Tradition began.

At Mass, we learn to welcome.  We hear God’s Word through Scripture.  We are fed and nourished by the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  And we hear the call to go out to all the world.  The tools we need to share Jesus with the world are available to us in the most complete form always and only at that the Mass.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - July 19

Dear Parishioners:

The 2015 St. Timothy Festival is now history.  The dates are set for next year:  July 8-9, 2016.  Put it on your calendar and begin a countdown!  What did you notice about this year that can be improved?  What did you enjoy that needs to be repeated?  How will you and your family take up a greater responsibility for the Mission of the Church during Festival time – Welcome, Hospitality and Discipleship?

Personally, what I noticed is that we attracted a lot of young people, high school age, who were gathered in groups all around the property.  They traveled with each other almost like swarms of bees, or in gatherings resembling beehives, with several always together and one or the other moving away and back again (usually with something sweet).  Are there new ways we could engage them?  From time to time, I teased them asking if they had a ticket for being able to stand on that patch of grass or to sit on the edge of the sidewalk.  The little ones were engaged (always with Mom or Dad, or Grandma or Grandpa) with the rides and with the Kiddie Kingdom.  Grown-ups were comfortable at tables or standing in smaller groups, eating and drinking, visiting with friends they see only at the Festival.  As Pastor, I wandered around through the property all night on both days.  You can see my pictures to prove it on Shutterfly (620 this year!): 


Many from beyond our community come to join us for the Festival.  Not a few have told me that they really like ours the best because of the family atmosphere and what we have to offer – something for everybody.  We have something special at St. Timothy.  I offer a word of thanks to all who made it possible and I invite everyone to reflect on the accomplishment with an eye to making it even better.

As the Summer continues, we are beginning to address the areas highlighted for planning.  The Amazing Parish effort calls us to open our eyes to see what is truly unique about our parish.  What is God doing among us that is not just for our benefit?  What has been entrusted to us for the sake of those who are entrusted to us as a Parish?  Our neighborhood is the field of our action.  Who in that field is waiting for us to draw them in?  Beyond the local area, we are also charged to keep in mind the Diocese of Columbus (our local Church) and the Universal Church, which embraces the world.  What aspect of the Gospel are we supposed to highlight so that others may come to know its Truth?