Friday, September 21, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor September 23

Humility comes to us in only one way: we must be put in our place.  Humus is the part of the soil – the ground beneath our feet – that is the decomposition of plants and animals that have given up their own life principle.  For us to be made humble, we have to be deconstructed.  Our own shaping of the world around us must correspond not to our own preferences, our wants and desires, but to God’s plan for us.  God’s Will is always for our good.

Humus makes new life possible, because it gathers in for new plants and the animals that feed on them the water and nourishments that allow life to grow.  So when we are humbled, we are cooperating with the grace that God supplies to enable us to grow into the Life that He offers.  We are truly “grounded” in our own being because we rely not on what we have created on our own, but on the building blocks of what God creates us to become.

Is your Faith being challenged?  Are you having to revisit what you thought you had already figured out?  Are you hearing an invitation to allow what is happening around you to humble you?  That is the meaning of the chaos in which we find ourselves these days.  Each one of us must respond to God directly, asking Him to open our minds and hearts to His plan for our lives.

This weekend we begin our Parish School of Religion (P.S.R.).  St. Timothy School has been in session for a full month.  The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (C.G.S.) is also underway.  These educational opportunities are to assist parents in their duty to raise their children in the ways of Faith. 

As our catechetical efforts enter into full swing, all parents are reminded that the only way our children learn and internalize what is taught is to observe it also in their families’ practice of the Faith.  God calls us to be present at Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation in order to give Him His due.  Gathering as a Christian community, the family of God, hearing the Word, celebrating the Eucharist and being sent forth into the world to share what we have received are our Catholic way of life.  We owe it to God and to our children always to be attentive to our duty.  May we begin this new season well and be a sign to the world of the truth of the Gospel.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor September 16

Being Catholic is a great gift.  At times, due to the “bad publicity” and the “scandals” that are in the news, we can be tempted to doubt this gift.  At such times, we need to remember and to remind ourselves about the central aspects of our Faith: our Creed, the Sacramental Life we share, the Call to Holiness (through the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes), and the Life of Prayer that puts us in contact with God Who IS Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

There is no other Faith or Religion that has these elements in fullness.  We may not always live up to them, but they are our birthright – the Life that is given to us through Baptism.  If we attend to history, we will recognize that each one of these has been discovered through the course of the ages, going all the way back to our Jewish roots, and made ever more explicit through the Life of Jesus and the Salvation History lived out in the Church.

Relying on God, we can be renewed in our awareness of the gift of Faith and in our commitment to be a living sign of the truth of the Gospel.  We acknowledge our complicity in sin and our trust in the Mercy of God that frees us from sin, making available to us the Salvation won for us by Jesus Christ.

Sins committed by members of our own family impact us more and are more painful for us since we know we are called to do better.  It is so also with the Church.  On the other hand, there are times when we do show our best face to the world around us and serve as the witness of sacrificial Love that is ours in Jesus Christ.

The celebration of the Blue Mass, sponsored by our Knights of Columbus Council #14345, was a wonderful reminder to us of our capacity to witness to the wider community the finer instincts in all of us.  It was an honor to have so many members of the various organizations of first response, as well as Bishop Frederick Campbell, at St. Timothy.  Thanks to the Knights for their effort to bring this about.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor September 9

“The Ephphetha,” which we hear about in the Gospel today, is one of the rituals that follows the pouring of the water in the Rite of Baptism of infants in the Catholic Church.  The celebrant touches his thumb to the ears and lips of the newly baptized child and says these words: May the Lord soon touch your ears to receive His Word, and your mouth to proclaim His Faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.

We can recognize this as one of the actions associated with the Sacraments of the Catholic Church that comes clearly and directly from the Scriptures.  If you pay attention to your Bible and to all the words and gestures of the Rites of the Church, you will be able notice more of these.  We are steeped in the Scriptures because the Scriptures flow from the very Life of the Church and return to renew and deepen that Life from age to age.

Over the past several months, it has been almost eerie how closely the Scriptures assigned to each day at Mass have spoken directly to the events going on around us.  We are called to live the Faith today just as it has been lived in every generation.  Our Baptism equips us to put the Word into practice.

We are to hear the Word, to understand it and allow it to penetrate our hearts, and to allow it to be evident in our lives.  We are to proclaim our Faith in the Word, by what we say and by our actions.  Praise of God is the response that flows from a lived experience of the Word.  We who live the Word praise God for the new Life that has been shared with us.  Those who observe our lives and who see the correspondence between the Word of God and our witness praise God and seek to share the Life given to us in Baptism.

In these days, we are reminded of our responsibility to open our ears and our mouths to speak the Truth in Love.  Our children especially deserve to see a coherent witness.  Parents must live the Faith they have promised to share with their children.  Church leaders must be clear signs of the power of God’s Word by a witness of life that is evident inside the Church and beyond.

May the Lord Himself soon touch our ears to receive His Word and our mouths to proclaim His Faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.

A Word from Your Pastor September 2

Many years ago, I read a book by M. Scott Peck called The People of the Lie.  (The same author first became famous when he wrote a book that started with the line “Life is Difficult.”  That book was named The Road Less Traveled.)  In The People of the Lie, Dr. Peck expresses a hard truth: there are some people that are so caught up in their own lies that they must be considered “evil.”  There is no way to get them to change their ways.  They treat others as objects and feed on the pain of others.  They are narcissistic and never see beyond their own skin.  The only thing that can be done in relation to them is to limit their influence by creating a fence around them.

I mention this “hard truth” because it may well be that we have reached something like this in what is going on around us with regard to scandals.  Who exactly “the people of the lie” in these realities are is not always easy to determine.  The fact is, when such persons are operating, they often spin such webs that good people are taken in by them.  In order to avoid being taken in, each one of us must re-center and rediscover the fundamental truths that govern human relationships.  Some of these are “hard truths,” but we cannot step back from facing them.

If your Faith rests on anyone other than Jesus Christ and His Church, you must reach down into your own heart more deeply to listen to the Voice of the Shepherd.  He will speak to your heart.  Evil exists, but Jesus has already conquered all evil.  The devil and its demons are certainly at work, but their voice is also clearly discernible.  Anything that would lead you away from Jesus, the Church, the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacraments is false.  Now is not the time to draw away from God, but to draw closer to Him than ever before.

There is darkness in the world.  But the Light of Christ has come into the world and it shines upon us.  We will discover that as we let go of our own selfishness and false images, as we allow the other gods that we have been tempted to serve to lose their hold on us, we will see more clearly.  The Holy Spirit is available to us.

We are the People God has chosen to be His own.  Poor in spirit, we will discover new riches.  Please stay close to God and to one another.  I am sorry for the burden that has been placed upon you by those who live the lie.  Thank you for your witness.  Let us continue to walk together in Truth and Love.

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.”   (James 1:21)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor August 26

In this week’s bulletin, we are including two letters, one from our Bishop Frederick Campbell and one from Pope Francis concerning the recent publication of the findings of the Grand Jury of the State of Pennsylvania about the abuse of children by members of the clergy and religious orders.  I invite you to read these letters and to pray for the victims and all who have been involved in the horrendous crimes described in the report.

As Pastor, I want to add my own word of sorrow and upset at what has occurred.  Words are inadequate to express the emotions that arise when I hear of what has been done to innocent ones by those who are called to live as trustworthy shepherds.  The damage done to them and to the Church by such actions is evident.  We must side with the victims and do everything in our power not to allow such things to happen ever again.

As I have said in several homilies at Mass when these things were first coming to light, my heart goes out to all who have experienced abuse of any kind and to all whose Faith in the Church is affected by these scandals.  I am convinced that Jesus, the Good Shepherd Who loves us and Who wants to lead His flock to green pastures, will be with us as we seek to move forward.  God is using this painful reality to bring us all to Truth and to purify His Church so that we can be a faithful witness to the Gospel.

The Diocese of Columbus has now for many years instituted practices to ensure the safety of our children.  All who work and volunteer in the name of the Church in our parishes and our schools experience background checks and undergo Virtus training called “Protecting God’s Children.”  The Diocese has a clear protocol for reporting abuse and acts promptly to answer any situations that are brought to our attention.

Contact information for reporting abuse is on the Diocesan website, including both the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator and the public officials for each county in the State of Ohio.  Any who have knowledge of abuse are asked to contact the appropriate authorities.  Help is available.  We are listening.

Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator

The Reverend Monsignor Stephan J. Moloney

Statement from Bishop Campbell

Letter of Pope Francis

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor August 19

Wisdom is a divine gift.  It is a share in the very way of seeing and being that is proper to God.  In order for Wisdom to have a place in our lives, we have to become open.  This means acknowledging that we do not know.  Socrates, the wise philosopher, expressed his awareness of his own wisdom by telling the story (as Plato records it) that he went around asking so-called experts about their area of expertise.  He would always reach a moment when they could not answer a question and refused to talk anymore.  They did not want to admit that they did not know….  Socrates realized that he was wiser than the rest because he admitted his ignorance.

God’s Wisdom allows us to come to an understanding of the nature of things beyond our own natural knowledge.  To be wise in relationship to God is to know that without God we can do nothing.  When we allow God to share His Wisdom with us through the gift of Revelation – the Sacred Scriptures and the Teachings of the Church – we reach beyond our reach.  Grace builds on nature.  Faith puts us in touch with the Truth of God.

The challenge of our time and every time of human history is to put our trust in the God speaking through His Church.  Scandals come throughout history and, sadly, the Church is not any freer of them than any other part of humanity.  Nonetheless, the Church offers something we cannot receive any other way.  Jesus has united Himself to His Church.  He has promised us that He will feed and nourish us through Word and Sacrament.  By Baptism we are incorporated into the very life of Christ as sons and daughters of the Living God.  Eucharist renews our initiation into Christ and strengthens us for the journey.  Jesus gives us His flesh and blood and through this communicates Eternal Life.

This week, we will welcome our children back to School.  May the new year begin well.  We pray that all of us will be truly wise, putting our trust in the Living God.  May Wisdom show us the way.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor August 12

What sustains you?  What truly gives you the nourishment, the encouragement, the support that you need to meet the challenges of life?

Jesus tells us that He alone is the Bread of Life, the gift that the Father gives that brings true Life to the world.  As Catholics, we have a deep understanding of this.  It is written into our very DNA as members of the Church.  Unfortunately, however, we can forget it all too easily.

Studies made of relationship to Church in our time are showing some alarming facts.  Many are simply walking away from the practice of Faith.  In years past, there was a kind of “time out” for some of our young people in High School or College or the years of early adulthood, an exercise of “freedom” to reject parents’ values.  But when marriage and children came along, there would be a new maturity and a return to practice of the Faith.  Now, on the contrary, there is a departure soon after or even without Confirmation, and there is no return.  Former Catholics join the fastest growing denomination, the “nones,” that is, those who identify their religious preference on surveys as “none.”

What causes this loss?  Some blame the Church.  The claim is that the scandals, the lack of clear teaching, and a general lack of order are the cause.  Others blame the culture.  The world is simply too appealing and there is no room for the practices that sustain Faith.  Still others suggest that it is the lack of practice of the Faith in the home and in families that causes the failure of the next generation to pick up for themselves what has lasted for generations before them.

No doubt there is truth to all of this.  When scandals arise, they serve as a counter to the witness of the Gospel that the Church is called to provide.  When teachings are watered down or presented without clarity, then Faith has no “meat” to invite it to grow.  When the family fails to provide clear witness and direction, then our young people are left adrift in a confusing world.

What is the answer to this challenge of our day?  Faith, Hope and Love – and the greatest of these is Love.  Jesus tells us that He Himself is the answer, given by the Father.  We must put our Faith in Him.  We must allow the Spirit to renew our Hope and to trust in the Living God to show us the way.  Most of all, we must Love God and one another enough to throw in our lot with the Church and with the Family of God.

It has become very evident to me personally as a Pastor, that the answer to the future of our Church in the world and to the spiritual needs of our own parish and school community is to give more space and time to God and to His plans for us.  We cannot hope to turn around the trend that is all around us unless we are willing to give room to spiritual realities.

Look at your own home.  Where is your “God place” there?  Do you have a prayer room, a prayer corner or at least a prayer chair?  Look at your daily schedule.  Does your conversation with God have more than a cursory moment in the course of the day?  Do you and your family carve out daily time for God?

Let’s look together at the use of our parish and school facilities.  What gets the most space and time?  Are we willing to rethink how we use what has been entrusted to us for encouraging growth in our spiritual journey?  Jesus invites us to be fed and nourished for the journey.  “Arise and eat, else the journey will be too long for you.”  What will truly feed your hunger for God?