Monday, November 19, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor November 18

Dear Parishioners:

My fellow pilgrims and I have returned from our journey to the Holy Land.  It was a remarkable experience in so many ways.  More than 60 pilgrims, including four priests from the Diocese of Columbus, traveled throughout the holy sites we hear about in our Scriptures every day.  This was my fourth time in the Holy Land.  Every visit brings to light new things and allows for a deeper understanding of the Gospel.  Some call the Holy Land “the Fifth Gospel” because the land itself speaks of the relationship between God and His people.

On our journey, we also met a priest from the Diocese of Cleveland who had a group of pilgrims similar in size to ours.  We kept encountering them throughout the visit.  Many also joined us in spirit through Facebook.  Since our bus had WiFi, I was able to upload a glimpse of each site right after our stop.  Masses were shared by the priests, each of us having a couple of turns.  The pilgrims reported that this added a special richness to the experience.

If you have not yet had the opportunity to go to the Holy Land, you may want to add this to your “bucket list.”  It will change how you understand some things about the Scriptures and the world.  Our group was one that had many who were using canes or walking sticks and who needed to go slowly.  This was not always easy due to the press of the crowd, but we managed to work it out together.

Be sure that you were with me along the whole pilgrimage.  I carried a printout of our Parish and our School Rosters to all the holy places we visited and kept you in my prayers and Masses.

Soon we will begin a journey through a new Liturgical Year.  Advent will begin Sunday, December 1.  Let us journey well as we seek to open our hearts to the Lord Who is born for us at Christmas.

A Word from Your Pastor November 4 & 11

My pilgrimage to the Holy Land begins this week.  Some of our pilgrims are already en route.  There are a group of 67 people who will be on this journey together.  We carry all of you with us as well.  So that you can follow our trek day by day, I offer you the itinerary planned for the next couple of weeks.  You can follow us in spirit.  It may be that our schedule changes a bit, but we’ll be covering everything at one time or another, so you can follow more or less what we do each day.

Tuesday November 6   Tel Aviv
Arrive Ben Gurion Airport. Our representative will help you through customs and take you to the bus where you will meet your guide. Transfer to your hotel in Netanya or Nazareth (depending on flight arrival time) for dinner and overnight.

Wednesday November 7    Caesarea/Haifa/Mt. Tabor/Nazareth /Cana
After breakfast, explore the Mediterranean coast. Drive along the Via Maris to Caesarea Maritima and visit the Roman Theater with the 2000 years old Aqueduct and view the Crusader fortifications. Continue to Haifa and Mount Carmel, visit the Church of Stella Maris and Elijah's cave. Take in the magnificent view of Haifa Bay. Enjoy the famous Falafel - a typical Israeli lunch. Drive to Mount Tabor, the Mount of Transfiguration, which dominates the Jesreel Valley, Biblical known as Armageddon. On to Nazareth for a visit to the Church of Annunciation - the biggest in the Middle East, see Mary’s Well and visit the Old Synagogue. On to Cana of Galilee - the site of Jesus’s First Miracle at the wedding. Drive to your hotel in Tiberias for dinner and overnight. (Mass in Nazareth)

Thursday November 8    Sea of Galilee/Capernaum/Tabgha/Mt. of Beatitudes/Caesarea Philipi
After breakfast explore the surroundings of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus began his ministry. Start the day with a cruise in the lake on board a "Biblical boat". Visit Capernaum, "the Town of Jesus", and see the synagogue and St. Peter's house. Continue to Tabgha, site of the miracle of the Fishes and Loaves. On to Mount of Beatitudes for a breathtaking view of the Sea of Galilee. Lunch will be at a typical restaurant, serving the famous St. Peter's Fish.  After lunch drive up the Golan Heights to Caesarea Philipi (Banias), which is one of the sources of the Jordan River. Back to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (Mass in Capernaum or Mount of Beatitudes)

Friday November 9   Jordan Valley/Jerusalem/Bethlehem
After breakfast begin your journey to Jerusalem. Start with a visit to the 2000 years old wooden fishermen boat that is hosted at Kibbutz Nof Ginossar – The St. Peter’s Boat. Drive south along the Jordan Valley. On the way view Jericho, the most ancient town in the world and Mount of Temptation. Drive on the Biblical old road to Jerusalem. Enter the Holy City with a special ceremony. Drive to Bethlehem, visit the Church of Nativity and view the Shepherds' Field. Free time for shopping. On the way back to Jerusalem, stop for a visit to the Herodium – King Herod’s fortress and tomb. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. (Mass in Bethlehem)

Saturday November 10   Mt. of Olives/Garden of Gethsemane/Pool of Bethesda/Via Dolorosa/Holy Sepulcher/Mt. Zion
After breakfast we will dedicate the day to exploring the Holy City. Visit Mount of Olives with its breathtaking view over the Old City of Jerusalem. Here you can see the ancient Jewish cemetery and Oscar Shindler’s grave. Visit the Chapel of Ascension and Pater Noster Church, where we find the "Lord's Prayer" in over 50 languages. Walk down Palm Sunday road to the Church of Dominus Flevit - "the Lord wept". On to the Garden of Gethsemane with the ancient olive trees and visit the Church of All Nations. Nearby we can stop for a short visit at the Garden Tomb. Enter the Old City from the Lions' Gate. Visit St. Anne's Church and the Pools of Bethesda. Continue along the stations of the Via Dolorosa (carrying a wooden cross, if available) to the Holy Sepulcher, where the last Stations of the Cross are located. On to the Jewish Quarter and Mount Zion to visit David's Tomb, the Room of the Last Supper, the Church of the Dormition and the St. Peter in Galicantu Church. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. (Mass in Jerusalem)

Sunday November 11   Day 7 - Ein Karem/Yad Vashem/Israel Museum-Model
After breakfast discover the New City. Drive to Ein Karem, the hometown of St. John the Baptist. Visit the Churches of Visitation and St. John's the Baptists. Continue to Yad Vashem the Holocaust memorial. Drive to the Israel Museum to visit the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are exhibited and visit the Holyland Model of the Holy City as it was 2,000 years ago, in Jesus' times. Conclude the day returning to the Old City to visit the Wailing Wall, the holiest place for the Jewish people. View the Temple Mount with the El Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. (Mass in Jerusalem)

Monday November 12   Day 8 - Free Day in Jerusalem (Optional Bethany/Dead Sea/Qumran/Masada)
(Early morning Mass in Jerusalem) After breakfast free day for personal activities or take an optional tour to Masada at an additional cost ($110 per person):
Drive to Bethany, visit the Tomb of Lazarus and the House of Mary and Martha. Continue to the Good Samaritan Inn. Drive to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. Visit Qumran, where John the Baptist may have lived with the Essenes and where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls where written and found. Continue along the Dead Sea shore to Masada. Ascend and descend by cable car. Visit the amazing fortress built by King Herod. Walk along the remains of the palaces, bath-house, walls, the synagogue and the Byzantine Church. Hear the tragic story of the last stronghold of the Zealots fighters. Drive to the Dead Sea, the lowest point and the saltiest body of water on earth. Enjoy a dip in these salty waters, where you can float on this amazing lake.
Special Farewell dinner at the hotel with Pilgrimage Certificates and overnight in Jerusalem.

Tuesday November 13   Day 9 - Transfer and prepare to fly back to USA
(Morning Mass in Jerusalem) After breakfast pack your suitcase and check out of the hotel. Visit Hadassah Hospital and see the famous Chagall Windows, stop at the Knesset – the Israel Parliament, to see the famous Menorah and the Eternal Flame. On to visit Yad Kennedy and the Kennedy forest, which is a memorial for President JF Kennedy. Drive to Old Jaffa where we can see the house of John the tanner. Transfer to the airport for our different flights back home.

Wednesday/Thursday November 14/15   Day 10/11 - Arrive back home
Arrive back home

No doubt when I arrive back home, I will be under jet lag for several weeks.  It always bothers me more coming East to West.  Forgive me if I am bleary eyed.  But know too that I will be grateful to be home and will be glad that you have journeyed with me in spirit.  We will have much to be thankful for as Thanksgiving rolls around once more.

Be sure that I am praying for you and your families and all who are dear to you.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor October 28

November begins with a wonderful reminder of the Communion of Saints.  We celebrate All Saints’ Day November 1 and All Souls’ Day November 2.  We who are the Saints in Training pray with and for those who have marched ahead of us.  The Church on the face of the Earth is known as “the Church Militant,” that is, the Church on the march or the Church fighting the battle on the earthly journey.  “The Church Triumphant” refers to the Saints in glory who continue to pray for us and urge us on to victory.  “The Church Suffering” speaks of those who have entered into the mystery of death still needing purification, “the Holy Souls” in Purgatory.

The simple truth that is expressed the fact that in Christ, the Church is One.  We are all connected to one another and we cooperate with Christ and His Holy Spirit in working out our salvation, one for all and all for one.  The Communion of Saints is a sharing of Holy Things among the Holy Ones of God, made holy by the action of God’s Spirit among us.

We are called to see our lives as a whole, Time and Eternity interpenetrating.  Looking to the glory that is in store for us, we find the courage to persevere on our own march and to pray with and for the others who are with us on the journey.

This week, all are invited to Mass for the Holy Day of Obligation,  the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1, and then again for the special celebration of All Souls’ Day, November 2, where we will remember all those who have died in the past year. 

During these days, we contemplate “the Four Last Things”: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.  Realizing the brevity of our lives on earth, we set our minds and hearts on the glory of Heaven, where we are destined to share Eternal Life with God, the Angels and all the Saints.  May we cooperate with the Holy Spirit to complete our journey through Faith, Hope and Love and may we pray with and for our brothers and sisters with whom we share this journey now and forever.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor October 21

“I have a question.”  This was the beginning of a conversation with a young man I saw just outside the church.  “We do the Sign of the Cross at the beginning of Mass.  And then we do the Sign of the Cross at the end of Mass.  Does that mean that the Mass is one big prayer?”

“Exactly!” I responded.  “And you dip your hand in the Holy Water at the beginning of Mass so you can do the prayer, and then again at the end of the Mass so that you can take what you have done out to all the world.”

The insight of this young man is worth our pondering.  So often, folks fail to realize just what the Mass is and treat it as if it is a commodity.  Some who choose not to come to Mass will say, “I don’t get anything out of it.”  Prayer is about a relationship with God and His Church.  The Mass is the Prayer of Jesus Christ in union with His Body, the Church, addressing the Father, Worshiping in Spirit and in Truth.  When we enter into that Prayer, we become part of the very flow of the Faith, Hope and Love that keep the Universe in motion. 

Folks can wonder why the world’s problems are not being solved.  We have a Savior, Who has promised to fill every longing of our heart.  We are not able to find solutions because we fail to enter into the true flow of things.  St. Padre Pio said: "It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass." 

We are now halfway through our annual October Count.  So far, the numbers are down for attendance at weekend Masses once again.  Many who could be with us are not.  The Mass, which is the source and summit of the life of the Church is undervalued.  What is the solution?  We who are present must pray that the Lord will open our eyes to see how our witness to the truth and power of the Mass can be shared more effectively.

In the months ahead, our Second Graders and Eighth Graders and others will be preparing for First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation.  May we all strive together to become a more effective witness to the gift of the Sacraments in our lives as Catholics.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor October 14

The Gospel is meant to be lived.  It is not a mere collection of stories just to make us feel good.  It is not a code of laws that regulate all our actions.  It is a way of life.  It is all about acknowledging that we are loved and that God’s Love is offered to the world through us who have been chosen by God to be the bearers of the Good News in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Knowing the Faith is necessary, but it is not enough.  Loving according to human measure does not reach the heights God has intended for us.  It must be “woven together” is a manner of living that communicates the Truth.  Jesus relates to each unique individual, inviting to a personal response at the depth each one is capable of understanding.

The rich young man in the Gospel today is a reminder to us all as to how we can become slaves to our own possessions.  We accumulate what we claim as our own, and it then lays claim to us.  When our concern for things other than God leads us to fail in our responsibility to put God first, we are not living the full promise of the Gospel.

Parents have a special duty to teach their children how to live the ways of Faith.  This means that their own lives ought to be in conformity to the Gospel and that they need to do all they can to ensure that their children develop the habits that allow the Gospel to be primary in their lives as well.  When we fail as a witness to our own families, we cannot hope to succeed in bringing the world to Christ.

God understands our human limitations.  He gives us the power to fulfill His Will.  When we fail, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is there to help us to return to the Gospel way of life.  Our children need to see us pick ourselves up after we fall.  This, too, is part of the witness of the Gospel way of life.

When Jesus looks into your heart, what does He see there?  What does He ask you to do for love of Him?  Are you willing to follow?

A Word from Your Pastor October 7

The month of October invites us to contemplate many things.  It is the month of the Rosary.  It is the month that highlights Respect for Life. 

October also has many wonderful Saints that invite us to pray and to put our Faith into practice in service of others.  Just to name a few:

  • St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower (October 1),
  • St. Francis of Assisi (October 4),
  • Pope St. John XXIII (October 11),
  • St. Teresa of Avila (October 15), and
  • St. Luke (October 18)

For our own Nation, the North American Martyrs, St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues, and their companions (October 19) are most important for the planting of the seeds of Faith in our land.  The Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels (October 2) reminds us of the personal love of our Providential God.

In our observance of the variety of themes of this month, we can see that they all point to our responsibility of living our Faith and doing whatever we can to be a witness so that others may know the Love of God.  We are loved by God.  We are chosen by God.  And, with the help of the prayers of the Saints and Angels, we will be able to cooperate with the grace of God to do great things.

You will notice that our Ushers are counting at all the Masses.  This is our annual October Count, which the Diocese of Columbus uses for planning purposes.  So, this is the month to stand up and be counted among the faithful!

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor September 30

Moses couldn’t do it alone.  He tried, but it was wearing him out.  God arranged some help – adding the assistance of 70 elders who were given a share in the spirit God had poured out on Moses.  When the younger generation expressed surprise at this, Moses prayed: “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!”  The rest of salvation history tells the story of how God answered this prayer.

We are living in a time when it is clear that no one of us has all the gifts and talents needed to address the challenges we face.  But all of us together, in interdependence, have what it takes, if only we are united in the Spirit.  The world continues to separate us from one another and from our better selves.  We make judgments and fail to allow proper time for understanding and discernment.  Like Moses, we tend to be overworked and stressed out.

Unity is what will free us to overcome all that stands in our way.  “We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall hang separately” was Benjamin Franklins wry quip in the face of argument for the American Revolution.  In order for the “great experiment” to succeed, we need once again to be reminded that we are “E pluribus unum,” that is “one from many.”

Jesus’ mind and heart belong to us.  When we open our spirits to His way of discernment, we find ever new paths toward unity and peace.  The solutions to all the problems we face will not come from our own devices.  We need what only the Spirit of God can offer.  Whether we are in church or out in the world, we need God and one another.  May our hearts be open as the Spirit of Christ is poured out upon us so we may be the prophetic witnesses we are called to be.