All posts by diocesan-crescent

Online Giving Coming Soon!!

St. Mary’s is excited to announce that we will be offering Online Giving very soon!  Online Giving is a simple and convenient way to give.  

Please consider automating your regular donations with our new electronic giving program.  St. Mary’s Crescent relies on the financial generosity of the Parish and electronic giving offers an easy way to give on a recurring basis.  Stay tuned for more information!

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13: 1-23


 

Today we need to pray for ourselves, for our family, for our Parish that we will hear God’s word, understand it, and in the process live God’s word allowing God’s word to bear good fruit 100, 60 or 30 fold.

Just maybe the word of God is a continuing reminder, as Pope Francis shared recently:      that being Catholic is a way of life!

Maybe we Christians, we Catholics have forgotten – have failed to appreciate – that the blessings of God, the Spirit of God given all of us is meant to assist us 24/7 in being people who better the lives of others so that they may taste the joys of the Kingdom of God here on Earth, as we will one day in heaven.

Last winter in New York City a commuter got off his train and was walking home at a rapid pace thinking about the hot drink he would have as soon as he got home.   As he rounded the corner to his street he heard a young girl cry out, “Get your hot chocolate here, hot chocolate here!”

And there in front of him was a table with a large thermos of hot cocoa, a can of whipped cream, miniature marshmallows and a stack of plastic cups.  The commuter was impressed – a different take on the summer lemonade stand.  As he approached the 7 year old girl asked if he wanted whipped cream or marshmallows.  Placing his order, he took out his wallet and asked how much she was charging.

“Oh, it’s free,” she laughed.

The confused commuter looked at the girl’s mother, who was standing nearby and said, “You’re giving it way?”

“Yes, it’s free,” her mother said with a smile.  “My daughter got so many gifts for the holidays, we wanted her to learn to give back to the community, and we thought this might be a good way, so enjoy!”

It’s obvious from this story that the girl’s parents were people of selflessness, compassion, generosity, caring and humility.  Seeds, if you will, that they were planting in the mind and heart of their child that will one day mature in the child’s life.

Christ calls us to model the sower of today’s Gospel in our homes, our neighborhoods, our work places, our schools, our churches.  Everywhere and always. Never forgetting that the works of God, the works of the Gospel, even the simplest act of kindness, may be the “seed” that recreates and transforms not only our homes, but just maybe a world.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9-13; Matthew 11:25-30


 

A few years ago, a parish was asked to help resettle a family that had fled Cambodia and had come to begin new lives in the United States.

The Pastor put out a call to help and everyone in the parish responded.  One parishioner, a real-estate agent, found an apartment that was large enough and that the family could afford.  A lawyer offered his help dealing with the many legal and bureaucratic issues they faced.  The children in the parish befriended the children and made them part of the life of the school.  Business owners and professionals used their contacts to find work for the father.  A group of moms reached out to the mother to help her make her way in their new community.  Other parishioners collected warm clothing for the family, who arrived with few personal possessions.  For the first few weeks, families took turns preparing supper for the family.  One elderly, homebound parishioner wanted to do her part as well, so every week she baked some kind of treat for the family’s Sunday dinner.

Everyone in the parish, in his or her own way, welcomed the family.  Parishioners offered whatever they had – be it professional contacts, food, clothing, or simple hospitality – to make this family, who has been through so much, a part of their larger Parish family.

These Parishioners with whatever skills and resources they had, took on the “yoke” of Jesus.  In the Middle East, ox yokes were custom made of wood, cut and measured to fit a particular animal.  The Greek word that we translate as “easy” in today’s Gospel more accurately means, “fitting well.”

God does not ask of us what we do not have or cannot do, but to give what we can and do what we are able to do in a spirit of humility and gratitude.

In offering what they had to help this Cambodian family, every member of that Parish took on the “yoke” and “burden” of Christ:    A “yoke” that is light and easy in that it demands no more from us than what we are capable of doing and giving and its “burden” is the humility and selflessness to use what we have in the humble, generous spirit of Jesus the servant.

Solemnity of Peter & Paul, Apostles

Scripture Readings: Acts 12:1-11 2 Timothy 4:6-8 Matthew 16:13-19


 

Today, on this Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul we recognize two saints who failed deeply in their lives.  Two saints who came to recognize all that the Jesus was to the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Two saints who came to know, first hand, that it was the grace of God that enabled them to become the leaders they were, the witness to God’s mercy and forgiveness and love.

The Saints we honor today, Peter and Paul, came to know that they had to live Jesus through their day to day lives.

And so it is with us, at our Baptisms we promise to “live” Jesus.

How do, and how will, our words, our actions, our attitudes make Jesus present in our world of today and tomorrow.

There was an article in the paper this Saturday that shared that the holy month of Ramadan has begun (this Saturday) for Muslims across the world.  They noted that during this, Muslims are to fast and pray, which requires forgoing FOOD and LIQUIDS from dawn to dusk each day.  But the article also noted that each person has to watch their moral behavior.       They cannot swear, they cannot speak bad about anyone,  and they cannot even think badly about anyone.

There’s a witness to faith if I ever heard one.

Friday night I was reading a document from the Bishops of the United States entitled:  Disciples Called To Witness.     (That’s us folks!)

In the first page the Bishop’s share:

Christ commands us to be witnesses to the ends of the earth.   We are to proclaim the Good News to all people, everywhere and at all times.

The Bishop’s continue:

How often do we fail to realize that we are called to Christ’s witness to the world?      Do we realize that our Baptism, Confirmation and reception of the Eucharist bestow on us the GRACE we need to be disciples?  Are we inviting those around us to experience Christ’s love and mercy through the Church?  How often do we reach out to our missing brothers and sisters by inviting them to Mass or by asking why they no longer feel welcomed at the Lord’s Table?

Finally, the Bishop’s share that:

The New Evangelization calls all Catholics first to be evangelized and then in turn to evangelize.

And how do we come to know Jesus, how do we come to know what Jesus asks of us today and tomorrow as disciples called to witness to Christ.

The answer is we all need to grow closer to Christ.   We need to spend some time with our friend Jesus in prayer and reflection.

This past week, Bishop Scharfenberger shared this same thought with the Saratoga Deanery when he shared we need to spend some time in prayer each day if we are to “bring Jesus to our world of today.”  The Bishop suggested an hour.  He then said maybe 30 minutes.  Even Matt Kelly of  the “Rediscover Catholicism” book that most, if not all of you have,  shared – we need to find at least 10 to 15 minutes a day to spend some time with our friend:  Jesus.

The Church, that’s us, individually and collectively is real – is authentic when the church looks and acts like Jesus.

May this prayer that we call the Mass (The Scriptures; the Eucharist) continue to transform us weekly into authentic Catholics and an authentic Church – always centered in Jesus…A Church that looks and acts like Jesus.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi

Scriptures: Deuteronomy 8: 2-3, 14-16; 1 Corinthians 10: 16-17; John 6: 51-58


 

In our readings today from Deuteronomy and St. Paul we hear about manna and the bread that is the Body of Christ.

Today, on the Feast of the Body of Christ, there are the reminders that the bread and wine we received at Mass… the Body and Blood of Christ that we received at Mass weekly, like the manna that God gave daily to the people of Israel is meant to bring us together.

This Eucharist we receive every week is meant to make us more Christ-like.

The Eucharist we receive every week is meant to make us more concerned, more attentive to the people on our planet earth and in our personal day to day lives.

The Eucharist we receive every week is a reminder that we have been nourished, we have been blessed by God to be a blessing to one another and others every day.

The Eucharist we receive every week is a reminder that we need to constantly find a better way to love one another.  We are meant to be a community, caring for one another.

The Eucharist we receive every week is a reminder that for Jesus there is never them and us, for Jesus, we are all us!

The Eucharist we receive every week is meant to nourish us, to transform us into a person, a people, a parish, a community, the body of Christ, with Jesus as the head, the leader if you will.  With Jesus working in and through us daily to bring his message of life, love, hope and so much more to you and me, and all we meet daily.  A message of word and action that will fulfill the deepest needs of all.
We are the body of Christ (as the song says) and as St. Teresa of Avila said so well:

“Christ has no body now but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours.

You are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out on the world.”

Feast of Pentecost

Scripture Readings: Acts 2: 1-11 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7; 12-13 John 20: 19-23


 

The Feast of Pentecost, as we know, is referred to as the birthday of the Church.  The Church was born, if you will on Pentecost.  But Pentecost is not a once only event.

Pentecost continued to happen whenever Church happens.

(Reminds me of the Flip Wilson show of many, many years ago and the segment he had entitled:  The Church of What’s Happening Now.)

  • When does Church happen?

When the Spirit comes to set free a community, blowing them out of being stuck in any comfort zone into a world sometimes hostile, to proclaim with joy the Gospel…Church happens.

  • When does Church happen?

When the Spirit turns a group of frightened people into a people afire with Jesus’ love…Church happens.

  • When does Church happen?

When the Spirit comes upon a community and makes each person aware of his or her gift given for the good of others, whether they are part of that community or not…Church happens.

  • When does Church happen?

When a community knows the breath of Jesus breathing in them, showing itself in a spirit of forgiveness generously extended to others…Church happens.

  • When does Church happen?

When the Spirit makes a community out of individuals and not just individuals from the same family or same neighborhood or same race, class or language.  We’re talking strange people.    We’re talking people we would not give a second glance.  The Holy Spirit creates community with those who are unlike us, people we do not want to be lumped with. People we think about as “nutzoids” and sometimes we are one of the them….This is Church happening.

  • When does Church happen?

Church, to paraphrase the pope, is messy and annoying and absolutely necessary to the Christian life.  And when we see and experience the order and the mess and when we see and experience the comfortable and the annoying…Church happens.

  • When does Church happen?

Church happens when “we” and “others” work together as a community of faith – centered in Jesus and His message.   Church happens when we are not in control, but the Holy Spirit, the Lord is in control and we give God permission to work in and through us, every day.

  • When does Church happen?

Most of all, when a community of believers gathers in the power of the Holy Spirit, who comes upon bread and wine to change it into the body and blood of Christ – Enabling those who receive it to be more deeply transformed into the body of Christ…Church happens.

The question today is not only about how Church has happened in years past or even yesterday.  The question is how will Church happen this moment, this hour of our lives.  How will Church happen later today, tomorrow, and for days to come in the world around us – as person, family and parish.

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings: Acts 1: 12-14 1 Peter 4: 13-16 John 7, 1-11a


 

This past week as we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension we heard Jesus give the disciples their “marching orders” if you will:

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.    And know, that I am with you always”.

How do we go from being baptized to baptizing?

How do we go from being taught to teaching?

How do we know that God is with us and how do we make God known to others?

Just maybe the answers to our question came from Jesus

Jesus talks about the poor.

Jesus talks about sharing what we have.

Jesus talks a lot about love and upsets folks by his definition of neighbor.

Jesus tells us to serve each other — willingly, cheerfully, humbly.

Jesus talks about meals…simple meals and sitting down together, not eating on the                                 run.

Jesus tells us to share bread and wine in his memory, as a community gathered in his                              name.

Simply put, Jesus tells us to look for Christ in each other and to be Christ to each other.

There’s a novel entitled:  Vestments.

It’s about a spoiled, self-centered young man who stands to inherit a fortune from his dying aunt.  But there is a hitch… She’s a pious Catholic woman who, in her confusion, thinks her nephew is a priest.  To ensure his inheritance, he begins to wear a Roman Collar when he visits her.

The young man not only enjoys how people treat him as he dresses as a priest (“Can I check your oil, Father?” “Would you like more Coffee, Father?”) but he begins to enjoy how he treats others.  He finds that his is more kindly toward others, more helpful, more understanding.    And other things change, too. He starts to drink less, he stops fooling around, he begins to wonder at the purpose of life, he begins to think that maybe there is a God and that Christianity is more than foolish superstition.  What started a fakery begins now to change him.

Christ “put on” the vesture of Human Beings so that we could become like Christ.  We may at times have to fake it.  But if we put on Christ, if we wear Christ on the outside, we may find that we have become more Christ-like on the inside.

You know we hear about prayer today, prayer by the early disciples seeking God’s guidance in being faithful to Jesus, our Lord and Savior, our brother.

Prayer by Jesus, for his disciples, including us, his disicples for this time and place and for the people we will encounter today and every day.

Prayer that is meant to lead us to truly living the gift of faith that has been shared with all of us.  The gift of faith we share with our children.

 

As Mother Teresa shared with her Sisters, “Every act of love is a prayer.

Prayer in action is love and love in actions is service.”

 

May we pray for one another and for others in words,

But may we also pray with our hands, our hearts,

and with selflessness – more and more and more each day.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings: Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21


 

In our First Reading today from Acts of the Apostles we heard:

Philip went down to the City of Samaria to proclaim Christ to them.

With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was going.  For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.  There was great joy in that city.

When I read these few verses, I immediately remembered the recent Papal Exhortation by Pope Frances entitled:  The Joy of the Gospel.

And if we were to sum up this Papal Document of 51,000 words, it was around the theme of Christian joy in order that the Church might rediscover the original source of evangelization in the contemporary world.

And that source is the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The necessity to live the Gospel we profess is something that is necessary for every generation, including ours.

The early Christian Community recognized the fact that they had to do more than say they were followers of Jesus Christ, they had to live it, proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ daily.

Jesus tells his disciples that the world will know there is something special about them when they not only love God, but love one another…

Yesterday morning as I took my Friday four hour walk, I entered into discussion with a person who I knew, who was passing the other way.  After his usual question to me, “What’s the good word?” To which I responded, “Don’t inhibit the good work of God and the good work of others.”  He shared that recently, he began to pray every day for people he did not like or people he found it difficult to deal with.”  He even went on to share that he recently met one of these people who was always hostile to him and when he shared with the man that he was praying for him, the man’s attitude changed on the spot.

This is faith in action…

This is patient progress…

Imagine the power of God, the power of the Gospel that could flow from this parish alone as more and more people believe that they are carrying God; Father, Son and Spirit with them every day, every moment of the day, into the world.

My friends, if we continue to believe that Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ is meant for us and for everyone, we will become more and more imbued with the love, the joy, the hope that comes from God, and others will notice it and ask about it and want to share in what God has to offer.

As a refrain of the song:  Dwelling Place, by John Foley shares:

May Christ find a dwelling place of faith in our hearts.

May our lives be rooted in love, rooted in love.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings: Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14: 1-12


 

“Amen, Amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these,” says Jesus in today’s Gospel Reading.

40 Years ago there was a group of university students who decided to find every verse in the Bible that spoke of the works that God called us to do.

It turned out to their great surprise that they all related to issues of:  justice, care of the poor,  the abandoned, and the neglected.  That amounted to over 2,000 texts.

The works that I do, the works that we do, are meant to be the very ones Jesus did:  healing the sick, washing the feet of others, feeding the multitudes, and throwing arms of forgiveness around prodigal sons and daughters.

Robert F. Kennedy once wrote:

“Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope.”

You and I are not Jesus and will probably not heal sick people as Jesus did, but we can certainly be attentive to them.

You and I are not Jesus and are probably not going to raise anyone from the dead, but we can grieve with those who have lost a loved one.

You and I are probably not going to solve the problems of the day, like human trafficking, the rise in heroin addiction, or income inequity, to name just  three issues of the day… BUT… what we can do is to act with courage to become a tiny ripple of hope, that joined with others, can become again as Robert F. Kennedy shared, “a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

We believe, as least I hope we do, that we belong to God.  We are his presence in the world in which we live.  We are his face, his voice, his hands, his feet, his heart.

And how do we do this?  By doing the very works that Jesus does.

And how do we know what these works should be?

Ask yourself this question, “What in the world today most breaks your heart, most offends your sense of justice, most inspires passion within you?”  DO THAT!