Pastor’s Corner

Respect All Life

Dear Parishioners,

On January 22nd in 1973 Roe vs. Wade was decided. When people hear Respect for Life I feel they often think of abortion but Respect for Life is this and so much more.

This issue is one that is close to my heart.  When I was born I was a “preemie.”  I was two months premature.  After my birth, I was placed into an incubator. The technology was rather new in 1970.  In all fairness not everyone understood how things worked and certainly many were not accustomed to caring for such a small baby. One nurse assumed that I was dead and so she shut the oxygen off. When the other staff members found me, I was purple in color.  You see, we should not make assumptions in life.  It is not for us to make that type of decision, who appears to be full of life and who does not.

As Catholics we believe in following the Divine Will of God.  The many different areas of this includes Natural Family Planning, accepting children that God has given to both their mothers and fathers, respecting people who have disabilities, opposing the death penalty and allowing people to die without the use of extraordinary means.

Last week and the next couple of weeks, I plan to write articles focusing on some of these issues to educate all of us on the view of the Church.  Bottom line, we believe in Natural Law, the way God designed creation.  In living out our faith we must defend the rights given by God.  Everyone should have the right to live and defend their life when attacked either verbally or physically.

Please keep in prayer our civic leaders, all who defend life and those who work to save lives.  I challenge all to think how they treat their neighbor.  Blessings to all of you.

Fr. Gary

 

Respect Life-Capital Punishment

Dear Parishioners,

Often I have heard it stated that we live in a culture of death. It seems like harsh words. However, at the forefront of this are the debates on war, murder, abortion and euthanasia. In a crass way it seems that things have gone beyond hatred to simply an approach that some lives have value while others do not.  As Catholics we believe that all life is a gift from God. Only our creator is the master of both life and death.  St. John Paul II made the focus on life a central part of his pontificate.  He gave public addresses that became a part of his Theology of the Body.

John Paul gave us great insight in his teachings. His life demonstrated even further what he believed.  During the last months of his life, he reminded us that the sick and elderly have much to teach us and certainly his determination to honor God with his life inspired millions, both Catholic and non-Catholic.

Early in his Pontificate Pope John Paul II was shot in St. Peter Square. His actions of reaching out to his assailant, Mehmet Ali Agca, give us a practical understanding the opposition of Churches view on Capital Punishment.  The image of the Pope visiting Mehmet in his jail cell is one that taught all of us how to respect the value of every life, even those who attack us.

Before entering Seminary, I was involved in a young adult group called the Frassati Society.  For Respect Life Month we brought in a Religious Sister to speak of the friendship she developed with a Death Row inmate in TX.  She read from his letters that he sent her.  The inmate pleaded that punishment is setting in the cell and execution an easy way out for both society and the inmate.  The time in jail allows for repentance and conversion of heart.   When I heard this, my view of Capital punishment began to evolve.

You may think it simple but when I look at this issue, I recall the basic teaching my parents taught me as a child. Two wrong actions do not make a good action.  Life is a precious gift not to be taken from someone. Today pray for a conversion of heart, pray for mercy and pray for love of God and Neighbor. Take an opportunity to educate your self on issues of life and Catholic Church teachings.  Read the Catechism and look to scripture and the interaction of Jesus and Mary Magdalene as she was accused. Learn and live as Christ taught us.

Fr. Gary

 

Baptism of the Lord

Three of the four Gospels recall the Baptism of the Lord, each one in its own way. The version we heard today, from Matthew, is unique in recalling that when Jesus came to the Jordan, John the Baptist at first tried to prevent him, saying that he was the one who needed to be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus replies, Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.

Here, Matthew is keen to emphasize that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises made to Israel – as found in the first reading – and the one whose sandals John is unfit to carry (Cf., Matthew 3:11). John acquiesced to Jesus’ request, and upon coming up from the water, Jesus is revealed as my beloved Son through a voice from heaven, while the Spirit descends upon him in the form of a dove.

As we hear this Gospel proclaimed, we note this revelation/divine action occurs after Jesus comes up from the waters of the Jordan. We, too, have emerged from the waters of baptism, and been anointed with the same Spirit. The words of the Father are words meant for us, too, for we also are God’s beloved.

If anything, this feast has as much to say about us as it does about Jesus and his identity. Yes, by going down into the waters of the Jordan, Jesus demonstrates his solidarity with our broken world, but we know that he was without sin and so his baptism is different from ours. Unlike Christ who embodied perfection, we have to choose whether or not to live up to that baptismal identity, and to continue his divine work in our world today.

We who gather here have made this choice, it seems. We may not do it perfectly, but by our profession of faith and openness to the grace available at this Mass we are, at the very least, committed to trying our best. May God bless us in our efforts, and may the Eucharist continue to transform us for the sake of the world.

 

Epiphany

Dear Parish Family,

This weekend, we celebrate the Epiphany. The word comes from the Greek word Epiphania, meaning “revelation.”  It is based on the biblical story that tells of the Magi or Three Kings: Kaspar, Melchior and Balthasar – who saw a bright star on the night Christ was born and followed it to Bethlehem. There they found the Christ child and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  The legendary visit would later give rise to the custom of gift giving at Christmas on the Feast of the Epiphany, today traditionally observed on January 6

Epiphany is traditionally celebrated the 12th day after Christmas, January 6th. In the dioceses of the United States this feast has been moved to the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. I wish each of you God’s grace on this Epiphany.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Gary

 

Christmas Blessings

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I wish all of you God’s blessing at this time. Christmas is a special time for us. It is a time to recognize the love and goodness of God; a time to know that Christ has come among us; a time to remember that God now shares the same joys and sorrows that we do; a time to rejoice in the hope of eternal life that Jesus brings to each of us.

I pray that all of you have the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones and let them know you love them.  Always know that I love you.

As I reflect upon the new life Christ brought into our world, emotions of joy and gratitude well up within.  During Advent I have spent extra time in prayer while outside, reflecting upon the Silent Night our Lord was born.  The crisp air and silence brought a lot of peace into my heart for which I am grateful.

I am also thankful to all who make our sanctuary look beautiful. I thank those who share their gift of music to make our liturgies so delightful, I look forward to hear your voices once again. I appreciate all those who share their talent in the various ministries in which they read, greet and assist at  the altar.  Once the Nativity scene is set up, I ask all of you to take a few moments and reflect upon the Nativity and the image of our Lord.  May Christ bring peace into your lives throughout 2020.

Thank you for all the kindness, support, encouragement and generosity you have shown to our parish during 2019. All of you certainly help make Precious Blood to be the vibrant parish it is today.  I hope that this Christmas will be the most joyous you have known. May the newborn Christ Child bless you, your families and friends and your homes.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to all,

Fr. Gary

 

Gaudete Sunday

Dear Parish Family,

Sunday following Mass, a parishioner spoke to me about a discussion he had at the beginning of Mass with his daughter.  The cantor announced that it was the second Sunday of Lent. Then his daughter leaned over to him and said you know what that means, with a smile on her face.  She said next week Fr. wears pink.

Gaudete Sunday is celebrated on the third Sunday of Advent.  The word Gaudete means rejoice, it reminds us to be joyful in this time of preparing for the coming of our Lord.  The season of Advent originated of forty days in preparation for Christmas.

On this Sunday the liturgical color is Rose, most of the children like to tease the priests that it is pink.  I don’t care what you call it pink/rose, all I know is that it reminds us to rejoice, the Lord is near. Gaudete Sunday signifies that we are midway through the season and signifies the nearness of the Lord’s coming.

Gaudete Sunday is further marked by a new Invitatory, the Church no longer inviting the faithful to adore merely “The Lord who is to come,” but calling upon them to worship with joy “The Lord who is now nigh and close at hand”. The spirit of the Liturgy all through Advent is one of expectation and preparation for the Christmas feast as well as for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Gary