Friday, February 17, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor February 19

Dear Parishioners:

This week I am returning from an extended time of vacation – the longest I have taken all at once.  Since the bulletin is going to press before my return, I am writing in anticipation of the return.  No doubt I will have lots of stories to tell, and maybe even a few pictures to share.  Every experience of travel is an adventure.  This trip has been my sharing in one of my ordination classmate, Fr. Jeff Rimelspach’s dreams for his “bucket list,” – that is, what he wanted to do before he “kicks the bucket.”   It is really a privilege to do something with someone who approaches it with zeal, as a dream.

Our entering into the life of Grace with Jesus through the Sacraments is just this kind of experience.  It is an adventure that takes us into places we never dreamed of going.  I opens to us new horizons and new ways of seeing the world around us.

Have you entered with enthusiasm and zeal into what God has offered you through your Baptism?  What are the signs in your approach to Faith that this is so?  How do you share it?  What “souvenirs” of the journey are reminders to you of the fun of it?  Who is with you on the journey?  What do you plan to do as the Lord Jesus shares His “bucket list” with you?

Next weekend, we will experience the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation with our 8th Grade class.  Please keep them in your prayers.  “Come, Holy Spirit” is the simplest prayer for the grace of this Sacrament.

A Word from Your Pastor February 12

Dear Parishioners:

The Baptismal Font of St. Timothy Parish is always flowing.  When I arrived here and discovered that it was so, I was especially delighted because I believe that this is a subtle way of teaching us how to think of our own Baptisms.

The simple truth is that once Baptism begins, it does not end.  We are baptized into Jesus Christ.  His Life begins to be lived in us as soon as we are touched by the Sacrament of Baptism.  Although we can “block” the flow of grace by sin, we cannot be “un-baptized.”  The Sacraments that follow after Baptism deepen the flow of grace and renew it when we go off track.  The Life that we enter into through Baptism never ends.  We share in God’s glory through the touch of the Sacraments in different ways, but it is always the flow of the grace that started in us at Baptism.  The Christ-Life in us becomes a source of grace for us and for the world through us.

How powerful God’s grace is in us!  If we only recognized the holiness to which we are called through the gift of Baptism!

Parents bear a great responsibility in helping their children to know the Faith both by teaching them, and by giving them a living example.  When children are taught in our Parochial School or in Religious education classes, they can learn the facts.  Their teachers and other students serve as examples to them.  But no one more than parents can help them come to understand what it means to live in the light of the Sacramental grace that is theirs through Baptism.

A Word from Your Pastor February 5

Dear Parishioners:

A few days ago, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Presentation, that moment when Mary and Joseph presented the Infant Jesus at the Temple, in fulfillment of the Law of Moses.  On that occasion, Scripture tells us, Simeon and Anna were present and observed the grace.  Simeon’s prayer, the Nunc Dimittis, continues to be prayed by the whole Church as part of Night Prayer each night before sleep, and we continues to do what Anna did, telling everyone about the Child, especially those awaiting the consolation of the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Lord, now you let Your servant go in peace; Your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which You have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of Your people Israel.

This encounter at the Temple mirrors the celebration of Baptism that most experience: an infant brought to the Font of Baptism by parents and godparents.  Baptism is a joyful experience that brings families of Faith together as they rejoice in the gift of their children and as they express their hopes and dreams for what will become of their children.

Unlike the role of Simeon and Anna, however, the role of the participants, especially parents and godparents, in the life of the children brought for Baptism is just beginning.  Parents are required to attend a pre-Baptismal class in order to reflect upon the promises they will make.  Godparents are chosen not for social reasons, but for reasons of Faith, as examples to the children as supporters for the parents in bringing up the children in the Faith.

At a Baptism, parents are given a particular instruction about the duty they have toward their children and godparents are asked about their willingness to assist the parents in fulfillment of this duty:

You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him/her in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?

Baptism begins the Life of Grace and the Life of Faith.  It is not a mere ceremony celebrated and then forgotten.  The Church takes very seriously the responsibility to invite parents to live up to their promises.

What does it mean to practice the Faith?  How do parents teach their children to obey God’s Commandments?  Do you who are parents understand clearly what you have promised?

Focolare Word of Life for February 2017

“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.”  (Ezekiel 36:26)

A Word from Your Pastor January 29

Dear Parishioners:

As we reflect on the Sacramental Life, I want to share with you the St. Timothy Prayer that I have set for us to keep in our prayers throughout the year.  I have suggested a specific prayer for the Feast of St. Timothy every year since my arrival as Pastor at St. Timothy Church.  I made known the prayer for this year when we celebrated the Feast of St. Timothy at our School Mass last week.  I am away for a time of vacation, but I join you in this prayer.

St. Timothy Prayer for 2017

That faithful sharing in the Sacramental Life of the Church may form
all members of the St. Timothy Parish and School community
to be a clear witness of the truth of the Gospel and
of the power of the Spirit of Jesus to bring light and healing to our world.

This prayer invites us all to keep the Sacramental Life at the heart of our plans for everything we do.  As we come to a deeper understanding of what God’s Spirit does for us  in the Sacraments, we begin to grow in our awareness of our common call to be a witness to our Faith in Jesus Christ.

The Sacraments of Initiation bring us into a relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, our Triune God.  In Baptism, we become children of God and the door is opened both to Eternity and to the Life of Grace which is experienced in time in the Sacraments.  In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit enters our hearts and remains an Indwelling Presence, active through the Gifts of the Spirit and the Witness of Gospel Life.  In Eucharist, we received Jesus Himself in His glorified state of Being, Body – Blood, Soul and Divinity, that is, in the fullness of His Person – as Food for Eternal Life.

We are called to put the Sacraments into practice by responding to the grace that is given in each Sacrament, and by inviting others to a “Communion in the Sacred Things” we share through the “Communion of Saints.”

Our own Patron St. Timothy, the disciple of St. Paul, shows us how to be faithful witnesses to the Truth of Jesus Christ.  He worked with Paul to invite others to Faith, and as a martyr, he poured out his own life as a witness to the Apostolic Faith we share.

How do you see the Sacraments active in your own life?  Are you conscious of the ongoing flow of Sacramental grace?  Can you see the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as present to you through the Sacraments you have received?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor January 22

Dear Parishioners:

St. Timothy School is taking time this year to reflect upon the Sacraments.  It is fitting to do so in light of the fact that the Sacraments are an aspect of our Catholic Faith that distinguishes as Catholics.  I thought it would be a good idea to offer some thoughts about the Sacraments in my column as well.

The foundational Sacraments are the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  All Catholics share these Sacraments as the expression of their belonging to the Catholic Church.  To be a Catholic who is fully initiated is to have experienced the celebration of these Sacraments.  There are, of course, some Catholics who have only received one or two of them; they are not fully initiated until they receive all three.

In the early Church, the three Sacraments of Initiation were celebrated at the Easter Vigil.  This continues into our day for those who enter the Church as adults through the R.C.I.A., the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  As time went on, due to the growth of the Church, the Sacraments began to be celebrated at different times.  Baptism, which we share in common with all Christians, continued to be the doorway to the other Sacraments, and was most often celebrated for infants born into the Catholic Family.  The Bishop is closely associated with Confirmation, as the successor to the Apostles, and so it would fall to him in the West, that is, in the Latin Church, to complete the initiation through Confirmation at a later time.  In the East, among the Byzantines, priests celebrate the three Sacraments of Initiation even for infants.

The custom in early years was to keep the order of the Sacraments for all.  Confirmation was given later and Holy Communion would be done at a greater age as well.  Pope Pius X created a situation where this changed by opening Eucharist to children who reached the age of reason, about age seven.  This resulted in the change of order that most of us experienced if we grew up in a Catholic family, namely Baptism as infants, First Holy Communion in second grade, and Confirmation in a later grade, usually around the eighth grade.

Think about your own experience of the Sacraments.  Do you know when they were celebrated?  What are your memories of these days of your life that forever marked you? 

In the weeks and months ahead, I will offer some thoughts about each of the Sacraments and suggestions concerning how they can be highlighted in the life of our parish.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor January 15

Dear Parishioners:

The Baltimore Catechism gave the definition of a Sacrament as follows:  “A Sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.”  It indicated that the sign given was “a sensible sign,” that is, a sign that is perceivable by the five senses.  When we want to understand the Sacramental Life of the Church, we first have to grasp that it is the continuation of the Incarnation, the very Life of Jesus Christ, handed on to each generation through the instrumentality of the Church.

We understand that Sacraments are holy actions that allow Jesus Himself to touch us with His power and His grace.  They can happen only through the action of the Church.

The wonderful gift of the Sacraments is opened for us first through Baptism.  This Sacraments offer us the Life of God through sanctifying grace, that destines us for the glory of Heaven and gives us access to the Sacraments as the ordinary means of obtaining grace.

There are three groups of Sacraments: The Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist); The Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation – also called Penance or Confession – and Anointing of the Sick); The Sacraments of Relationship (Holy Orders, with its three levels of Deacon, Priest and Bishop; and Holy Matrimony, Christian Marriage).  As we enter more deeply into an understanding of the Sacraments, we grow in our capacity to respond to God’s Grace.

May 2017 be for us all a time of deepening awareness of the Sacraments.  May our children, who are being taught to open their hearts to Jesus through the Sacraments find in the adults who share their lives a reverence and a hunger for the Sacraments that teaches them how to put Jesus at the center of their lives.

This week, the children of St. Timothy School will be anticipating the celebration of St. Timothy, our Patron, at their Wednesday School Mass.  All are welcome to be a part of this celebration.  As we follow the example of our heavenly guide, may we be a sign to the world of the truth of the Gospel and the power of the Spirit to bring light and healing to the world.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor January 8 - Epiphany

Dear Parishioners:

Epiphany calls to mind three moments of the “Manifestation” of the Glory of God: The Arrival of the Magi, the Baptism of the Lord and the Wedding Feast of Cana.  In each of these three moments, there was a revelation of the Glory of God shining through the Humanity of Jesus Christ. 

The Magi, with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, remind us that Jesus, the Baby of Bethlehem, is King, God and the Redeemer destined to die for all of humanity.

The Baptism by John in the Jordan is celebrated with its own feast either on the Sunday after Epiphany in most years, or – as it is this year – the Monday right after Epiphany.  It serves as the first revelation of the Trinity in a public way with the voice of the Father and the visible sign of the dove as the Holy Spirit.  God’s Glory is revealed in Jesus as His Beloved Son, the Bearer of the Spirit in His human nature.

The Wedding Feast of Cana allows Jesus’ first disciples to begin to see His Glory and to believe in Him.  It also makes known the power of intercessory prayer as manifested in Mary’s request on behalf of the bride and groom, “They have no wine.”

If we have the eyes and heart to see it, we begin to realize that God is at work in our own human nature through grace.  Jesus Christ has poured His own divinity into the life of the Church in the celebration of the Sacraments and in the life of Prayer that we share as we gather for Liturgy.

May we walk together in Faith and open our hearts to the Glory of God made known in Jesus.  May our life allow God to use us to show all the nations His Glory and the power of the His Love.