Thursday, January 12, 2017

Saint Athanasius Quote



The almighty and most holy Word of the Father pervades the whole of reality, everywhere unfolding his power and shining on all things visible and invisible. He sustains it all and binds it all together in himself. He leaves nothing devoid of his power but gives life and keeps it in being throughout all of creation and in each individual creature.

Saint Athanasius, bishop


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God


We celebrate the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary on January 1st, which is the Octave of Christmas.  Only Christmas and Easter enjoy the privilege of an octave, which is an eight day extension of the feast.  We invite you to join us for Mass in the church to celebrate this solemnity.  Dates and times will be listed hear closer to the date.

The honoring of Mary as the Mother of God can be traced back to the Council of Ephesus in 431.  By the 7th century, January 1st was observed as a celebration of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In the 13th century, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ had come to replace the feast honoring Mary; however in 1751, after a push in Portugal for an official feast day celebrating Mary’s divine maternity, Pope Benedict XIV allowed Portugal’s churches to devote a feast to Mary on the first Sunday in May.  Eventually, the feast extended to other countries, and in 1914 began to be observed on October 11.  In 1931, Pope Pius XI extended the feast to the entire church, and in 1974, Pope Paul VI removed the feast of the Circumcision of Christ from the liturgical calendar and replaced it with the feast of the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God”, bringing Mary’s feast day back to the first day of the year.


The feast is a celebration of Mary’s motherhood of Jesus.  The title “Mother of God” is a western derivation from the Greek Theotokos, which means “God-bearer”.  On this day, we are reminded of the role that the Blessed Virgin played in the plan of our salvation.  Through the Holy Spirit, God the Father prepared Mary to be the dwelling place where His Son and His Spirit could dwell among men.  Christ’s birth was made possible by Mary’s fiat, or sanctioning of God’s plan with her words, “Be it done to me according to thy word”.  Calling Mary “Mother of God” is the highest honor we can give to her.  Just as Christmas honors Jesus as the “Prince of Peace”, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God honors Mary as the “Queen of Peace”.  New Year’s Day is also designated as the “World Day of Peace”, further acknowledging the role of Mary in our hearts and in our world.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Christmas Card , Thomas Merton



A Christmas Card

When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.

Hills, stars,
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.
Look down and offer Him.
The dim adoring light of your belief.
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.

Shall not this Child
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice)
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?

And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib,
Lo, with what rapiers
Those two loves fence and flame their brilliancy!

Here in this straw lie planned the fires
That will melt all our sufferings:
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet,
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt,
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

                                                  - Thomas Merton 


Saturday, December 17, 2016

First Snow in New Jersey 2016







“Looking for God in prayer is like looking for a path in a field of untrodden snow.  Walk across the snow and there is your path.”
Thomas Merton

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A commentary on Isaiah by Eusebius of Caesarea

A voice of one crying in the wilderness

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. 

 The prophecy makes clear that it is to be fulfilled, not in Jerusalem but in the wilderness: it is there that the glory of the Lord is to appear, and God’s salvation is to be made known to all mankind.

  It was in the wilderness that God’s saving presence was proclaimed by John the Baptist, and there that God’s salvation was seen. The words of this prophecy were fulfilled when Christ and his glory were made manifest to all: after his baptism the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove rested on him, and the Father’s voice was heard, bearing witness to the Son: This is my beloved Son, listen to him.


  The prophecy meant that God was to come to a deserted place, inaccessible from the beginning. None of the pagans had any knowledge of God, since his holy servants and prophets were kept from approaching them. The voice commands that a way be prepared for the Word of God: the rough and trackless ground is to be made level, so that our God may find a highway when he comes. Prepare the way of the Lord: the way is the preaching of the Gospel, the new message of consolation, ready to bring to all mankind the knowledge of God’s saving power.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

An Advent Reflection by Father Peter West

Advent is a season of waiting with Mary to celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a good time to reflect on the pregnancy of Mary as she waited in joyful expectation for the birth of her son. 

We reflect during Advent that Jesus was a pre-born child. The moment of the Incarnation took place not on Christmas Day at his birth, but at the Annunciation which we celebrate on March 25 - nine months earlier. Jesus the Eternal Word took flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, after she consented to God’s plan announced by the Archangel Gabriel. 

Reflecting on Mary’s pregnancy can teach us patience and the attitude of joyful expectation that all of us should have as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus and as we wait for his second coming in glory at the end of time. This attitude of joyful expectation should accompany the pregnancy of every woman as we await the birth of her pre-born child. Each child is made in the image and likeness of God no matter what their handicaps or circumstances of conception. Every child deserves a chance to be born and to continue to grow and develop outside the womb. Jesus identifies with the pre-born since he himself was a pre-born child. Jesus went through all the stages of development that we went through. He was a tiny zygote, an embryo, fetus, infant, child, adolescent and an adult. At no time did he become more human. He simply went through different stages of human development as we all did. When Jesus was developing in the womb he was not a potential person. 

Mary also can identify with every pregnant mother in a difficult pregnancy. She did not fully understand God’s plan, yet she trusted. True devotion to Mary means imitating her virtues – her faith, her trust and her willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of her son and others as she stayed with Elizabeth for three moths to help Elizabeth deliver St. John the Baptist. When Mary visited St. Elizabeth John the Baptist leapt for joy within St. Elizabeth’s womb as he recognized Christ’s presence in Mary. Thus we see John who was a fetus recognizing Christ who was a tiny embryo. This should lead us to an even greater respect for the lives of pre-born children and inspire us to work for their protection. Jesus says "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters that you do to me." (Mat. 25, 40)

St. Joseph cared for Mary during her pregnancy. He is an example for all men of the stewardship they are called to exercise. Men are called to respect the wonder of procreation and to care for pregnant women emotionally, materially and spiritually. During their pregnancies women become vulnerable should be able to rely on the support of their husbands and other men in their life who should respect and assist women as the mystery of life unfolds within them.

It is fitting that there are major feasts of Our Lady during the celebration of Advent – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary appeared as a pregnant woman to Blessed Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. She identified herself to be "the perpetual and perfect Virgin Mary, holy mother of the true God through whom everything lives, the Creator and Master of heaven and earth". She also proclaimed herself as Juan Diego’s "merciful mother, the mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all humankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry out to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me." Mary showed love to a people who had just escaped from the diabolical Aztec Empire in which human sacrifices were offered to false gods. Pope John Paul II proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe to be the Patroness of the Americas. She is also recognized as the Patroness of the Unborn.



We recognize that Mary’s life began at the moment of her conception in the womb of St. Ann. From the first instant and throughout her life she remained free from sin. Through the Immaculate Conception God gave humankind a new start. The name "Eve" means "mother of all the living", but because of her disobedience Eve brought sin, death and suffering into the world. When Jesus calls Mary "Woman" in the Gospel of John at the Wedding Feast of Cana and at the foot of the cross Jesus was affirmed her mission as the new Eve. Mary is more truly the mother of all the living.

Mary said yes to God and Jesus Christ was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so Mary is truly the Mother of Our Life. From the cross Jesus our Life gave Mary to us to be our mother. Mary throughout history has come to the aid of her people. As Mary put an end to the culture of death in Mexico we pray today that she will intercede for the United States. In 1846 the Bishops of the United States dedicated our nation to the Immaculate Conception. Ask Mary to intercede for us to put an end to the tragedies of abortion, euthanasia and other attacks on human life that we might lead other nations to respect the dignity and value of each and every human life from conception to natural death.

* This reflection is out of the PRIESTS FOR LIFE website.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Feast of Christ the King



Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Church year, and one week away from the season of Advent. A good day to remind ourselves that all of our celebrations are summed up in one statement: “Jesus is our King.” Jesus is the one we serve. 

In 1925, Pope Pius XI, certainly guided by the Holy Spirit, instituted “Christ the King” as a feast day. During this time, the world was experiencing a growing secularism - and a misguided sense of nationalism. This was the year that Adolph Hitler published his biography of hatred, “Mien Kampf” and Benito Mussolini became dictator of Italy.  By instituting this feast day, Pius emphasized the social - and political - implication of Christ’s kingship. Who is our King? Not the dictator, not the state, not ideology, not politics, the message was clear – only “Christ is our King”! 

I expect that all of us here today proclaim this reality. For why else would we be here? So, if we say,” Christ is our King” – do we understand the many implications that go along with that statement? To accept Christ as our King, we first must recognize - who he is, what he has done, what he is doing. 
 
We heard in our first reading from Samuel - how the Lord said to King David, “you shall shepherd my people Israel.” As King David was a shepherd to HIS people, tending, feeding and guarding – our King is the Son of God, the Good shepherd, the new David, who provides for his children with an even more abundant love – a love that, is immense, free, and infinite and saving.

 
As King David ruled from an earthly throne, our King’s throne is the cross. In the Gospel, we see Jesus is nailed to his wooden throne – and placed above his head, in a vein of grim sardonic, the words, ‘King of the Jews”.  At the moment of his pain and humiliation, of his complete self-emptying, Jesus assumed his real throne - sitting at the right hand side of his Father.  Jesus broke the chains of our captivity – the light of his grace has shone the way of freedom - secured in the shedding of His blood – he abandoned all that the world considers important.
 
It was not easy for Jesus to begin establishing his kingdom - with his values in competition to those of the world; it cost him his life. It is not easy today - for the Church now to establish the kingdom of Jesus, for we are living in a society that grows more secular and pagan every day.  But for those who empty themselves, who truly open themselves to Jesus, to be LIKE HIM, conforming to His image - the reward is a share in Jesus’ kingdom, “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Let us turn our hearts from worldly passions to godly passions. Do we love our neighbors? What are we doing to protect, and promote all life, the abused, the neglected, the disabled, and the elderly? Are we being especially sensitive to the life of the unborn? Do we spread the love of Jesus by our words and actions - in our homes, our places of work - before our friends and our family members? This is what Jesus, our teacher, did. To the extent that we are able to ask - and seek - genuine answers to these questions, it is to that extent that we acknowledge “Christ as the King.” This is what makes us Christians.

How do we buy into this “philosophy of Jesus?” The answer is simple. PRAY! Ask God to open up our hearts and minds. God answers our prayers – He never abandons us. We will gradually become free to trust the power that is expressed in unconditional loving, in spite of all the evil in our world.  We do not need to be endowed with special gifts in order to be a loving presence in our world. Yet we can be certain that such loving has the potential to transform the universe. What is more - the readier and more willing we are to do this, the more like Christ we will become - and our confession of Christ as Lord and Savior, of King and Redeemer, will become increasingly clear and persuasive in the world.
  
To Jesus Christ our Sovereign King
who is the world's salvation,
All praise and homage do we bring
and thanks and adoration

Your reign extend O King benign,
to every land and nation;
For in your kingdom Lord divine
Alone do we find salvation

To you and to your Church, great King
We pledge our heart's oblation;
Until before your throne we sing
In endless jubilation

Christ Jesus, Victor!
Christ Jesus, Ruler!
Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer