Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - November 22 Solemnity of Christ the King

As we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we count our blessings.  When we are mindful of all that God has done for us and all that we have received from the generosity of others, we become ever more aware of our responsibility to show gratitude through our own service of our brothers and sisters in need.  The Church’s reminder to us concerning how to give return for what we have received is the teaching regarding the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

CCC #2447.  The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.  (Cf. Isaiah 58:6-7; Hebrews 13:3.)

Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently.

The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.  (Cf. Matthew 25:31-46.) 

Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God (Cf. Tobit 4:5-11; Sirach 17:22; Matthew 6:2-4.):

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise.  (Luke 3:11.) But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. (Luke 11:41.)  If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? (James 2:15-16; cf. 1 John 3:17.)

Let us give thanks to God for His gifts, and may we share abundantly with those in need  through the power of His Mercy at work in our hearts.  May we learn, too, to share the riches of our Faith with all who long to know God through us.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - November 15

A Word from Your Pastor

Dear Parishioners:

How are you preparing for the end of the world?  As we come to the close of a Calendar Year, and as the Liturgical Year ends and opens to a new Season, we are invited to contemplate the Latter Days.  The Catholic Church points out the “Four Last Things”: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.  Each of us will one day meet our Maker and have to account for our lives on earth.  This is a sobering thought.  Yet it is not morbid.  In the life of Faith, it is an exciting thought.  We discover through Faith that we are destined for something beyond this world.

As our Catholic Faith points out, three Theological Virtues are given to us to assist us on our way to God: Faith, Hope and Love.  Faith gives us the capacity to receive the Truth that has been revealed by God and to respond to His Gift by a return gift of ourselves.  Hope helps us call to mind that God is always there for us and to put our trust in Him as our earthly life reaches its goal.  Love serves to share God’s own Life with us and we are enabled to enter into Eternity because the Love we have experienced goes with us.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we count our blessings and give God thanks for all He has given us, we also turn to one another with hearts full of gratitude for what we share.  Let us cultivate a spirit of welcome so that all may come to share our joy.  I want to be sure to thank you all for everything you are and do for the St. Timothy Community.  May your generosity of spirit be richly rewarded by God.

Jesus tells us that no one knows the day nor the hour when God will manifest Himself.  This is clearly so.  Yet we can live each day in joyful expectation of His Coming and in that way we will always be ready.  Let us be joyful and let our Faith lead us ever more deeply into an awareness of God’s Love for us.

Congratulations to our Second Graders who made their First Reconciliation this weekend and to all their families.  May Forgiveness and Mercy be ever a part of your life in Christ!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - November 8

Dear Parishioners:

Jesus invited His disciples to take a step into a deeper relationship with Him by asking questions.  At a moment of intensity, He asks His disciples “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29) This question is at the heart of all other questions.  We are asked to identify Jesus for Who He IS and in so doing we establish the very ground on which we stand.

Our age is a skeptical age.  It tends to discount anything that came before our age until it is tested.   It doubts what it cannot see.  It denies first and then seeks to manipulate things to go a predetermined direction.  Jesus calls us out of this way of thinking.  He invites us to see the world from God’s perspective.  He invites us to welcome God into our world freely by becoming part of what God is doing.  Jesus invites us to dream of what the world can be through His grace and to take concrete steps to let it happen in us.

The New Evangelization is the Call of the Church today.  From Pope John XXIII, who prayed for a New Pentecost to Pope Francis, who calls us to go to the peripheries, we are invited to become a welcoming community that leads the world to Jesus.

This week, I will be interviewing our Confirmands, the 8th Graders who are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  I will sit one-on-one with each of them to invite a deeper look at what God is doing in their lives.  This is always a revelatory moment.  I learn from them what is going on in the lives of their families in regard to Faith and how they are experiencing their own moment of discernment concerning commitment.  This is a privilege moment, and as  Pastor, I delight in this opportunity to speak heart-to-heart with each one.

Next weekend, on Saturday morning, our 2nd Graders will be receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time.  They delight in the power of this Sacrament to allow them to experience the healing Mercy of Jesus as He forgives them their sins and teaches them to forgive others.

As our youth enter more deeply into the Sacramental Life of the Church, all are invited to set an example for them.  Take the opportunity to renew your own relationship with the Holy Spirit you received at Baptism and Confirmation.  Go to Confession, especially if it has been a while, and renew your commitment to the life of Grace and Holiness.  Aim high.  Be holy.  Love.  God cannot be outdone in generosity.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - November 1 Solemnity of All Saints

Dear Parishioners:

Happy Solemnity of All Saints!  This is truly a Family Day.  We acknowledge that we are part of a family that has a great destiny.  Glory in the Kingdom of Heaven is our aim.  By the action of God’s grace in our hearts and in our lives, through our cooperation with that grace, we are promised a place among the Saints in Glory.  Our identity is not at all anything that the world tells us.  Rather, our identity is “Saints in Training.”

Holiness is the call of all who are baptized.  We belong to God.  We are set apart to accomplish a great work in God’s Name.  When we allow this to be central to our self-understanding, something different happens in us.  We live no longer for ourselves, but for God and for those whom He has entrusted to us.

Being a member of the Communion of Saints, we acknowledge that we are responsible for others.  The Saints in Glory, the cloud of witnesses who have gone ahead of us, pray for us and spur us on to victory.  The Holy Souls in Purgatory, our ancestors in Faith still in need of purification before their entrance into the Kingdom, also pray for us and rely on us to pray for them since they cannot pray for themselves.  Other “Saints in Training” also rely on us for our example and for our support through prayer and action that will help them along the way to the Kingdom.

When we fix our hearts on Heaven, we see the world around us differently.  When God is truly first in our lives, we find that the delights of this world pale in comparison to the joy of a living and true relationship with Him.  The call to holiness is a call to a delight that will never end.

November 2nd is the Memorial of All Souls.  On this day, we keep in mind those who have gone before us who are in need of the final purification to enter into Heavenly glory.  It is fitting for us to pray in a special way for those who have died in the past year and for all our benefactors.  A number of those who have been generous to the St. Timothy community and who literally built the Parish and the School have received their call to the Kingdom.  May they rest in peace.  May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace.  We remember them at the Masses of All Souls’ Day, especially the evening Mass sponsored by the St. Timothy Bereavement Committee.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - October 25

Dear Parishioners:

This past week, I felt compelled to share with my family and others the memory of my “little sister” Becky, who died at the age of 3.  October 19th would have been her 55th Birthday.  She was born into Heaven December 12, 1963.  I was 4 years old at the time.  I shared the picture with family by e-mail and then was moved to put it up on Facebook as well.  The responses of so many to that effort of sharing has been very touching to me and my family.

Becky, who was baptized as a baby, never reached the age when she could fall into sin, so she is a saint in Heaven, which is the promise of Baptism.  I have known her prayer all these years and for some reason just wanted to let others in on the secret.

Have a look at the picture many have seen on Facebook.

Yes, that is Fr. Tim to the left, Becky, and my brother Chuck, just a few months before Becky’s death.  I shared it with my mother in person on Becky’s Birthday and she told me it was her favorite of the pictures we have of Becky.

I am so aware of the Communion of Saints because of the life of Becky, that I want to be sure that you can see it too.  Your loved ones who have entered into the Mystery of Death are not far from you.  If they were ready at life’s end to say their “Yes” fully, they are in Heaven praying for you.  If they were in need of some purification, they pray for you still and they are in need of your prayers for them. 

The celebrations coming up next week – All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) – are the Church’s invitation to keep our unity with the Saints in Glory and the “Holy Souls” in Purgatory in mind as we continue our march through life.  I invite you to take time with your family to talk about those who have gone ahead of you.  Discuss what you think Heaven will be like.  If you have family members are nearing the time of their call, ask who they most look forward to seeing again.

It is not morbid to keep the reality of the fact that this life will end in mind.  We can “befriend” death as the doorway to the Kingdom of God for us.  Keeping in mind the Four Last Things – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell – helps to make sense of our life.  We find meaning in all we do in this world because we have Hope in Life Eternal.  We are called to be saints.  As we remember the Communion of Saints, let us strive for the holiness of life and welcome that leads others to God.  When the Saints go marching in, don’t you want to be in that number?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - October 18

Dear Parishioners:

As the Church continues her efforts to discover the best way to promote the life of the family, the fundamental building block of our society, it is useful for us to reflect on how ages past have seen family life.  For most cultures, it was recognized without any question that the best way to succeed was to have good family connections.  “Arranged marriages” were really an effort to take advantage of the unity that family brings to the advantage of both families of origin.  We look askance at this from our vantage point of the choice of the parties involved in the marriage, but the truth is that when families are compatible, there is a greater likelihood of success in a marriage.

St. Augustine in his Confessions looks back on his own meandering path and suggests that even in his day there was a motivation toward marriage and family that was ignored to one’s peril.  To marry could be to reach for a sense of “honor” that could be earned “by fulfilling the duties of a well-ordered marriage and raising a family.”  When one married instead due to lust or out of habit, the higher purposes of marriage were obscured.

In our time, we are being invited by the Church to renew commitment to being members of God’s Family and to living our own family life in the image of God through mutuality of respect and love open to God’s grace.  Young people, Pope Francis says, should not be afraid to embark on the adventure of marriage and raising a family.  The family is meant to be a school of love and to teach each member how to be sacrificial in giving of oneself to others.

Pope Francis in his homespun way tells tales of family life and invites us to love one another in practical ways.  Saint Pope John Paul II wrote much on family life through his long papacy.  We can learn much from these patriarchs in our church family.  Bishop Campbell has begun a series of talks about marriage and family that might be helpful to you and your family.

In the month of October, we celebrate respect for life.  The protection of life at every stage of development happens best in families united in mind and heart.  The call to prayer, especially the Rosary, is addressed to every family.  Attendance at Sunday Mass as a family, daily prayer and a personal commitment by every parent to raise their children by word and example in the ways of faith are all necessary components of family life.

Jesus lived as a member of the Holy Family of Nazareth.  May we learn to live as Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in the image of the Trinity.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - October 11

Dear Parishioners:

Reading the Message of Pope Francis to our country, I have come to a realization that I thought I would pass on to you.  What the Pope has to say to us can only be fully understood if you read all that he said and did while he was with us.  The pundits on all sides have started to pick apart what he said on the basis of sound bytes and as to what was said or not said in a particular speech or homily.  I have taken the time to download and read all the talks, and as I went through them all as part of my personal prayer time, I discovered that he really did say everything – even what he is purported as not having said!  He did use the words that he supposedly didn’t say, and his actions spoke louder than words in many situations.

In other words, the true Message of Pope Francis to the U.S.A. is to be grasped as a whole.  From the first moment he arrived until his last moments with us, he was a Message to us.  It is the Truth we all need to hear: that God is with us, that He loves us, that He wants to offer us His Mercy.  We are a family of nations. 

The fundamental building block of society is the family, according to God’s plan from the beginning and God Himself became one with us in the Family of Nazareth.  Each one of us can make a difference in the world by being willing to do the hard work necessary and by listening to those around us, making ourselves one with them and sharing our joy in the Gospel.

As I have shared on several occasions, the experience of welcome at Philadelphia was truly phenomenal.  I was in awe of the warmth and the efforts at outreach by local folks all through the weekend that the Holy Father spent there.  My first thought was that we can do this at St. Timothy Church.  We can be a truly welcoming community, but we have to make some decisions that put the Gospel at the center of our lives as individuals and as a parish family.  It cannot be “business as usual.”  How are you challenged to move outside your comfort zone and to commit?