From the Pastor – February 23, 2020

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt. 5:43-48) “Nobody’s perfect.”  It’s a common excuse when we make a mistake.  We might like the perfect date, or the perfect sunset, or the perfect evening, but we don’t like applying the word to ourselves because, well, … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – February 16, 2020

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 5:19) I rarely listen to music around the rectory or in the car, but when I go to my family farm in Alabama, I listen to a lot of country music. It started many years ago when it was the only thing I could pick up on the radio in my beat-up 1980 Suburban. And now I listen to country because it seems to go well with riding around in the woods. Although I generally enjoy the melodies of country songs, what I particularly like are the lyrics. They’re easy to understand in country music, and they usually have some kind of good, wholesome message. I … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – February 9, 2020

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Mt. 5:13) I’ve told this story before, but I’m reminded of it whenever I hear this Gospel!  When I was in second or third grade, some of my classmates started making fun of me – as children do – by calling me “salty Nalty.” They would repeat it over and over again: “Salty Nalty! Salty Nalty! Salty Nalty,” especially as they realized that it distressed me at that young age. One day I came home from school and told my Mother about it.  And she told me: “You just tell them that you are the ‘salt of the earth.’” I'm not sure I'd ever heard that saying before, but it sounded like it came from … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – February 16, 2020

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Mt. 5:14-16) This Sunday we celebrate Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, a feast that rarely falls on a Sunday.  Since it’s a Feast of Our Lord, it “bumps” the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary time.  The Mass commemorates the presentation of Jesus in the temple when Simeon declared Him “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel,” and since the Mass is traditionally associated with the blessing of candles, it’s often called “Candlemass.” I … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – January 26, 2020

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Mt. 4:18-20) One afternoon while I was in seminary, I was having lunch with some classmates, and we were joined by another seminarian who was a member of a religious community.  He was younger than my classmates, and pretty “gung-ho” about being a seminarian.  With eager eyes and enthusiasm, he turned to my classmate, Mike Woods, and asked “So when did you get your call??!!” Now, you’d have to know Mike, but suffice it to say that Mike was about 10 years older than the other seminarian.  He’s from Pittsburgh, … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – January 12, 2020

After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:16-17) This weekend we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. For centuries, Christians have celebrated the season of Christmas as twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany.  The season ends with our celebration of the Lord's baptism. The public life of Jesus begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan.  John hesitates, but Jesus insists. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my beloved Son.”  Similarly to the visitation of the magi, this is an … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – January 5, 2020

“And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.  They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.  They prostrated themselves and did him homage.” (Mt. 2:9-11) Why were the “wise men” wise? Were they wise because they knew the movements of the stars in the sky?  Perhaps.  Were they wise because they understood the seasons of the year or the mysteries of nature?  Maybe.  Or were they wise because they knew how to navigate according to a star.  All of that might be true.  But the underlying truth is that they were wise because they were searching for God. Their desire for Him meant that they could detect his coming appearance on earth in the … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – December 29, 2019

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16 ) Although the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph asks us to examine whether we’re being good family members.  When we contemplate the Holy Family, we note the fact that when Jesus became man – when the Word became flesh – He became flesh as a little child within a family. That was a divine choice; because Jesus could have chosen any way he wanted to manifest Himself.  He could have arrived on earth as a 33 year old adult or an 80 year old man. But Jesus was conceived and began his existence in Mary’s womb, and was born as a baby in a family.  Mary became the Mother of God (as we … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – December 22, 2019

Therefore, the Lord himself will give you this sign:  the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,  and shall name him Emmanuel. (Is. 7:14)  She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,  because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:21) In William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers have a dialogue about their own names.  It begins with Romeo hearing Juliet call his name: “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”  Later in the dialogue, Romeo responds: “It is my soul that calls upon my name:  How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night, Like softest music to attending ears!” This quote has been paraphrased to something like: “there’s nothing so sweet as the sound of one’s own name.”  And even if we don’t read Shakespeare or understand poetry, … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – December 15, 2019

“Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again:  rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all.  The Lord is near.” (Phil. 4:4-5 ) This third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” from the Latin St. Paul uses when he tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always”: gaudete in Domino semper!  The spirit of the Liturgy in Advent is one of expectation and preparation for Christmas and the Second Coming of Christ, but our penitential attitude is suspended on Gaudete Sunday so that we might focus on the joy of our Redemption, which should never be far from our hearts. To highlight the importance of Gaudete Sunday, the priest wears rose vestments and lights a rose candle on the Advent wreath. Why do we mark this day by focusing particularly on joy?  It’s because … [Read more...]