Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - December 14 Third Sunday of Advent

Advent is moving along!  This weekend we are already at the Third Week, Gaudete Sunday.  We are called to Rejoice and to know our joy in God’s action in our lives.

At the Masses of this weekend, we celebrant the Anointing of the Sick, which is always a wonderful experience of God’s Mercy and Healing among us.  The peace and joy that is shared by those anointed and by those who are praying with them and for them is palpable.

In 2015, we will be concentrating on Family Life and on growth in our capacity to pray together as a family.  What are your favorite prayers?  How does your family show its unity in Faith?  What are you called to be and do as a family?  Will you consider going to meet Pope Francis in Philadelphia when he comes to share the World Meeting of Families?

As we head toward Christmas, let us do all we can to share our joy with the world.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - December 7 Second Sunday of Advent

Dear Parishioners:

The call of Advent is to look beyond our present circumstances.  We are waiting for something to occur that will take us out of ourselves and into a way of living that is entirely new and different from our common experience.  The temptation we face is to keep our eyes fixed on ourselves and to be motivated by fears and limitations that serve to bind us to the status quo.  In the Scriptures this weekend, we meet John the Baptist shouting out Isaiah’s cry: “Prepare the way of the Lord!”  God wants us to open our hearts to receive Him and all that He offers.

What holds us back is sin.  The response we are called to make is to repent and to open ourselves to forgiveness.  God offers healing, Mercy, comfort and He invites us to a new resolve, a commitment to live in such a way that He can be at home with us.  In Advent, we look toward the Coming of Christ at the end of Time and we recall His Coming through the Incarnation.  We also seek Him where He promises He will always be found:  in the Sacramental Life of the Church.

What holds us back is a failure to put God first in our lives and to be witnesses of Faith by the manner of our choices.  I invite you to renew your commitment to the Lord: Make Sunday Mass a priority for your family.  Take the opportunity this week to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation at our Parish Penance Service this Wednesday evening.  Consider devoting some “extra” time to prayer, attending an extra weekday Mass, spending time with the Lord in the Eucharist through Wednesday Adoration.

What holds us back is selfishness and attention to our own wants and desires.  I encourage you to discover a way to reach out to those in need.  Many opportunities are suggested through the Parish.  St. Vincent De Paul and the Knights of Columbus call for donations to the St. James the Less Food Pantry.  The Coats for Children for Christmas is funded through St. Vincent DePaul.  Sandwiches are made for the Soup Kitchen one Sunday a month.  The Women’s Club and Youth Group sponsored a presentation on the Passion Center for Children in Malawi, Africa.  Donations may be made to this worthwhile effort to serve the poor.  You could make plans to be part of the outreach to Guatemala next summer.  We have already funded the education of two students in the Holy Land.  You can continue to assist with the special needs in this part of the world by purchasing Olive wood items in support of Bethlehem families.

The possibilities are endless!  Advent is an invitation to grow in the Life of the Spirit.  Do you hear the Lord’s call?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - November 30 First Sunday of Advent

Dear Parishioners:

As Advent begins, we hear the heart-felt cry of Isaiah 63: “O that You would rend the heavens and come down!”  This cry of the People of Israel that God should come close to them is answered through the Incarnation.  In the Person of Jesus Christ, God has become one with us in our humanity.

Advent reminds us that we are a people who wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises and the longings of our hearts.  As we enter into a new Liturgical Year, we are invited by the Church to prepare for the Coming of Christ at Christmas by acknowledging our need for Him.  We are reminded that He will come in glory at the end of time and that He comes to us in Mystery through the Sacraments.  At this time, the Church also invites us to celebrate the gift of the Consecrated Life and the life of the Family.

How do you practice your Faith as a Family?  Do you pray together at home?  What devotions do you and your children share?  How do you respond to the invitation to be holy?  Are others around you aware that you belong to Christ and are a member of His Church?  What difference does that make in your life?

The cry of the human heart is a cry that God hears.  He responds by accepting our invitation to be a part of our world in very concrete and practical ways.  How are you invited God to enter your world?

Hayes Family Thanksgiving 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - November 23 Solemnity of Christ the King

Dear Parishioners:

Thanksgiving is a time to renew our awareness of the many gifts we have received.  The greatest and most important gift that is ours is Faith.  Through Faith we are brought into a living relationship with God and we are formed as a Community of Disciples.  As we enter into the time of celebration with our families this Thanksgiving, let’s count our blessings.

I thank God for the gift of priestly ministry and for the privilege of serving as Pastor.  This week, once again, I will be hosting my family at St. Timothy for the Thanksgiving meal.  This year, all my siblings are in town for the first time in many years.  We are grateful for the hospitality this parish has shown us now for the past seven Thanksgivings.  Being able to gather my family here is a joy because in a lovely way, it brings my two families together – all of you and the family that raised me.

We offer a warm welcome to all who come to be with us at St. Timothy through the holidays.  Please join us for the Mass on Thanksgiving Day.

Next week, we begin a new Liturgical Year.  Advent will open us to a new season of grace.  May this year be a time of growth in our unity as a family and in our realization of who we are as a Community of Faith.

Please read carefully the inserts about our State of the Parish regarding Finances and about a Vision for a Catechetical Center we hope to create in the years ahead.  Parish Council and Finance Committee have discussed these efforts and will be working closely with all our members to reach the goals we set and our dreams for an ever more vibrant response to God’s call to share our Faith with the next generations.  Pray that all of us may be open to the Spirit and respond to the voice of the Good Shepherd Who leads us to green pastures.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Word from your Pastor - November 16

Dear Parishioners:

This week we hear about the call to Stewardship.  This is a universal call, sent out to all of us as individuals and collectively as a community of disciples.  What we have received we are to give as a gift.  As a sign of our acknowledgement that we are grateful for what we receive from God, we give first to God and to His Church.  This is the Biblical concept of Tithing – giving to God first from the fruits of our labor.  We give to God from our first and best, and then apply ourselves to other responsibilities.  Of course our current culture has this backwards, telling us always to be “looking out for number one,” namely ourselves.

We are called to share our Time, our Talents and our Treasures.  The measure of our giving is not so much an external yardstick as a check of our interior attitude.  “God loves a cheerful giver.”  (II Corinthians 9:6-7)  We make choices about our sharing of ourselves in friendship and relationships of all kinds.  The attitude of a Steward is the realization that all belongs to the Master and that we are making use of something that ultimately is on loan to us.

November reminds us first of the Communion of Saints.  Then it invites us to be thankful.  The weeks ahead will be full of activities that prepare us for family celebrations of the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day – and that call to mind memories of past seasons.  May we be ever mindful of our duty to be stewards and disciples, ready to return in gratitude to God what we have received.

Last weekend, we had seven teams of New Evangelizers walking our neighborhoods.  They went out full of zeal and returned in jubilation.  We thank the seminarians of the Josephinum for their efforts in our parish and we are grateful too for those who have responded from among our parishioners to join them in walking or to pray for their success.  The Gospel is alive and it is being taken to our streets.  May it continue to grow in our hearts.

New Evangelization Door-to-Door Ministry
St. Timothy Church
November 9, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - November 9 Dedication of St. John Lateran

Dear Parishioners:

Just in case you have not noticed, life at St. Timothy Parish and School is incredibly full and busy.  We have our usual meetings and gatherings of all the groups and the ordinary activities associated with parish and school.  We have also experienced many deaths of loved ones in our community and beyond, with the funerals and luncheons that offer consolation and support.  Our children are entering into fervent preparation for the Sacraments – First Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Holy Communion.  We are also doing “catch-up” for children who have not received Sacraments and whose families are renewing their efforts to train their children in the ways of Faith.

All of this is prelude to my admission of the fact that I have been personally harried by the busy-ness.  If you have contacted me (or tried to) and you have not heard back from me, I assure you that it is nothing personal.  I try to save messages that I pick up by e-mail or phone to respond when there is a lull.  But I don’t always manage to keep track of my lists of messages.  Sorry!  If you need something, please do keep trying.  After Mass on a Sunday is not a good time for anything but general information.  My mind does not hold all the little details the way it once did!  Email is the best way.  It sits in my “In” box until I get to it.  (Current count is 215 messages, down from 500 or so a day ago.)

When we are busy, we need to recollect ourselves and remember just why we do what we do.  What is the most important to us may get lost in the details of the busy-ness of our lives.  The Feast of St. John Lateran, which we observe today, is a reminder that we are God’s Temple as a community of believers.  The Basilica of St. John in the Lateran is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, the mother church of all churches.  As we recall this structure and its history, we seek to build up our own parish and to share the Good News of the Kingdom with one another.  The primary reason for our existence as a Parish and a School is to promote the growth of God’s Kingdom.

The Opening Prayer of Mass today offers a wonderful vision:  O God, who from living and chosen stones prepare an eternal dwelling for your majesty, increase in your Church the spirit of grace you have bestowed, so that by new growth your faithful people may build up the heavenly Jerusalem.” May we cooperate with the grace God gives in answer to this prayer.

Today, also, we welcome the New Evangelization Club of the Pontifical College Josephinum, who along with members of our own parish Evangelization Committee, will literally take the Gospel to our streets.  May we all learn to cooperate with the breath of the Spirit and to be the witnesses God calls us to be.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - November 2 All Souls Day

Dear Parishioners:

This weekend’s celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day invite us to consider what the Church calls “the Four Last Things”: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.  Every human being is destined, that is, created with the intent, to have a place in Heaven.  Nonetheless, because we are given Free Will, we are able to choose to accept that place or to reject it. 

At death, there is an experience of an immediate encounter with God.  In the “moment” beyond time, we will know ourselves as God knows us and a personal judgment will take place.  Our earthly life will be sifted to discern our orientation: toward God or toward ourselves alone.  God asks that we do His Will and say by our lives, “Thy Will be done.”  Yet, because we are free and He is Just, He allows us to choose our own will.  In that case, the just judgment is God’s saying to us “thy will be done.”  Hell, Scripture tells us (Matthew 25), is the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  Human beings go there only by a free choice.  God gives us the passage on the train that we have bought the ticket for by our manner of living and by our choices in the world.

It is unpopular these days to mention Heaven and Hell, as if expression of these realities somehow takes away from attention to the world around us.  Quite the contrary is true.  Believing in Heaven and Hell, we know that life has a goal, a purpose, an aim that is beyond this world.  As Catholics, we know the Mercy of God in the face of judgment.  If we are weak and sinful, but not turned inward on ourselves completely, He has made provision for an encounter that washes us clean so as to go into Heaven with the proper Wedding Garment, the purity and transparency that is necessary to be there.  We call this Mercy “Purgatory.”  At the Last Judgment at the end of Time, Purgatory will no longer be needed.  All that will remain are Heaven and Hell.

Note that Purgatory is a reality that is always on the way to Heaven.  If you choose to “go to Hell,” you do not pass “Go,” you do not collect $200, and you do not make a stop to say goodbye to your friends in Purgatory.  The choice of “my will” over “God’s Will” is the one-way ticket to Hell with no local stops.  The choice of “God’s Will” over “my will,” even if imperfect, is also a one-way ticket to Heaven, but there is a possibility for most of us who will need it of a purifying encounter that cleans out the pores and gets us ready for the Fire of Love with which Heaven is always burning.  Purgatory is prepared for human beings on the way to the Kingdom.

The celebrations of All Saints and All Souls also remind us of the Communion we share with all the Saints – those in glory, those in Purgatory, and those on the face of the earth.  We are able to pray for one another no matter what side of the Mystery of Death we happen to be on.  We on earth and the Saints in Glory pray for those on earth and those in the process of purification.  The “Holy Souls” in Purgatory can pray for us and ask us to pray for them, especially using the means available to us and not to them – the Mass and the Indulgences the Church offers through prayer and pious activities that keep us close to the Church.  All Souls Day helps us to keep them in mind.

As we consider the Communion of Saints and the Four Last Things, let us put our Hope in God through the action of Jesus Christ, Who is our Savior.  When death comes to us, we shall all discover that for those who believe, life is changed, not ended.  We are destined to live forever in the Love of God.  That is Heaven.