Deacon’s Corner, June 17 2018

Why do we go to Mass?  Essentially, we go to grow spiritually and worship as a faith community.  At Mass, we profess what we believe and bear witness to Christ by openly celebrating our Catholic faith before the world.  We go to Mass to share in the wonder of God’s love and be transformed by the Spirit of holiness.  When that happens, we go forward to live our faith and share with others that there is something greater in life to come.

Our Mass has not changed much over the past 2000 years.  In 155 AD, St Justin Martyr wrote a letter to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to explain and defend how the Early Christians worshiped.  St. Justin wrote: “On the day we call the day of the sun [Sunday], all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.  The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.  When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.  Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves…and for others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.  When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.  Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.  He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks [in Greek: eucharistian] that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.   When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying “Amen.”  When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the eucharisted bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.”  Ten years after he wrote this, Marcus Aurelius had St. Justin condemned, scourged, & beheaded for not worshiping Roman gods.  St Justin Martyr loved the Mass and gave his life for it.

In his book, Rediscovering Catholicism, Matthew Kelly writes Catholics have lost their sense of wonder about the Mass.  He asks are we “so unaware of the mystery and the privilege [of the Mass] that we can hardly wait to get out of church?”  He says if we truly believe Christ is present in the Eucharist, then the power unleashed within us through receiving the Eucharist is “unfathomable.”  But we cannot experience this feeling if we simply go to Mass because it’s our Sunday “obligation” or someone told us to.  The only way to grow spiritually at Mass and enjoy the camaraderie of our faith community is to rediscover the same wonder those First Christians experienced celebrating Jesus’ presence among them when He said, ‘do this in memory of me’.

Deacon John

 

FLOORING PROJECT UPDATE

 

Good news!  Last Friday, we received final approval of our flooring project from the diocese which now allows construction to move  forward.  After the 11am Mass on July 1, the main level of the church will be closed for about 2 months.  During the week of July 2, the Parish Hall will be converted into a liturgical worship space for daily and weekend Masses, Adoration, Confessions, and a dignified environment to come in and pray during the day.  The contractor will  mobilize on July 9 to begin pew and carpet removal.   The project is on schedule and budget for completion by September 15, hopefully by Labor Day if everything goes according to plan.  As required by the Witness-to-Hope project process, oversight of the project now falls under the parish   Finance Council.  This means Finance Council    approval is needed for any major decisions or scope changes regarding the project. Progress updates will be provided on a regular basis in the bulletin and our website.  More to follow as the final details are worked out.   Deacon John

 

Deacon Corner, June 10 2018

In the next few weeks, over 3.6 million high school students will walk across the stages in America to collect their diplomas.   Somewhere among the Baccalaureates, open houses, and commencements is the reality that change is coming for these young men and women.  Whether they continue their education, serve in the military, or join the workforce; they will encounter new people of all backgrounds, religions, lifestyles, beliefs and worldviews.  No matter the role we play in their lives, we can pray for them as they begin this new journey.  So, let us pray…..

¨ Pray for wisdom and guidance so they know God gives them a godly purpose.  Pray they will trust in the Lord.  Pray they will seek to know and do the will of God and follow Christ fully (Proverbs 3:5–6).

¨ Pray they develop good and godly habits.  Pray they make good choices.  Pray they connect with a local parish and be involved in serving Christ on and off their campus or workplace.  Pray for friends who will encourage and support them; friends who will lift them up and not drag them down.  Pray they are not deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

¨ Pray for their finances.  Pray they will be responsible for credit cards, student loans, travel, clothing, entertainment and personal expenses.  Pray God will provide for their needs. Pray they will spend wisely and give generously.

¨ Pray they remember what they learned at home and in church as they face new temptations, hardships, and dangers.  Pray for their safety.  Pray they will be witnesses for Christ in the way they speak, serve, love, and live.  Pray they be an example in faith, purity and devotion to God. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

¨ Pray for their teachers, professors, counselors, and bosses.  Pray these people will build them in strength of character and ability to think and act in a way that pleases God.

¨ Pray for their parents and siblings. Pray family ties remain strong and that these young adults will continue to honor their parents and love their family.

¨ Pray for their witness.  Pray our graduates become influencers, leaders and missionaries on campuses, in the market place, and workplaces. Pray they receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be bold, confident and eager witnesses sharing their faith wherever they go.  (Acts 1:8).

Today’s graduates are the next generation of workers and leaders, spouses and parents, to navigate an unbelieving world.  May we pray for them to be up to this challenge and never forget their Baptism and Christian walk.  May they grow in the peace and love of Christ to become the person God wants them to be.

Adapted from a June 3, 2018 Fox News commentary by Prof. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church and the host of PowerPoint Ministries.

 

Deacon’s Corner, June 3 2018

Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered Purgatory and how our soul leaves the body as soon as we die to be immediately judged by God.  Based on this judgement, our soul will go directly to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory.  This is called the “Particular Judgement.”  Our soul is reunited with our body during the “General Judgement” when Christ returns at the end of time.  This week let’s cover Hell and the “General Judgement”.

Jesus tells us there is a Hell and it is eternal.  He says it’s a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, where condemned souls are tormented, and the fire is not quenched (Matthew 13:50, Mark 9:48).  Hell is a state of everlasting suffering and separation from God.  God does not condemn anyone to Hell.  Instead, He invites everyone to choose the path of love and holiness over the path of greed, selfishness, and sin.  God gave us a free will and respects the choices we make.  People end up in Hell because they deliberately cut themselves off from God during their life on earth.  So, people choose to go to Hell and God lets them go.   We must recognize that Hell is a very real possibility.  To deny Hell exists is to deny a truth of our Faith.

The Church has declared some men and women to be saints in Heaven.  But, she has never stated that any particular person is in Hell.  No notorious sinner, murderous tyrant, or scandalous heretic has never been declared by the Church to be among the damned.  That’s because the Church simply does not want to presume anyone is in Hell.  That’s for God to decide.  But, that doesn’t mean Hell is empty.  It only means we cannot be certain who is there.  It would be dangerous to presume that Hell is empty, non-existent, or temporary and everyone is eventually saved in the end.

We pray in the Creed, “Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”   This is the General Judgement (or Last Judgement, Final Judgement, or Universal Judgement) – the Second Coming of Christ where God’s eternal plan of salvation is fully revealed.  At this time, God’s majesty, wisdom, justice, and mercy will be seen as everything that happened throughout human history will be unveiled.  General Judgement is not a “retrial”.   It’s a time when Particular Judgements are revealed for all to see.  Purgatory will cease to exist.  There is no opportunity for the souls in Hell to repent as they have already made their eternal choice.  After the General Judgement, the righteous will reign forever with Christ, glorified in body and soul (Catechism 1042-43, 1 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1).

Talking about death and judgement raise the ultimate questions of our existence.  We may fear the unknowns of death and eternity.  But we can console ourselves by trusting what God has promised to the faithful who die in a state of grace is something far more wonderful than any of us can possibly imagine.

Deacon John

Adapted from “Introduction to Catholicism for Adults” by Rev. James Socias

 

 

Deacon’s Corner, May 27 2018

 

My dad, and my good friend Bob, had a big influence on my life.  Both are home with the Lord.   Both were men of character, real gentlemen, and devote in their Catholic faith.  Both were part of the Greatest Generation we all owe so much.

Dad was 19 and part of a landing craft crew when he landed on Utah Beach the morning of D-Day.  As they hit the beach, his landing craft was disabled.  Under heavy fire, they abandoned their craft, hastily picked up whatever equipment they could find lying in the sand and joined an Army recon unit fighting their way off the beach.  For a month, he fought to liberate French towns in Normandy before returning to his ship.  When he did, he discovered half of his crew did not make it off the beach that morning.  Dad died suddenly almost 10 years ago, never really talking much about his war experience.

Bob was also a Navy vet and crewed a landing craft.  He was 18 and halfway to Japan for invasion of the mainland when the war finally ended.  Bob provided security for the USS Missouri as the Japanese signed the surrender document aboard it.  He remembers sailing into Tokyo Bay immediately afterward, wondering if it was all really a trap.  Bob spent the rest of the war as a first responder clearing the rubble from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and bringing food and water to Japanese citizens who survived the devastation.  Bob died 2 years ago when his heart was too tired to pump anymore.

A month before he died, our son wrote Bob a letter which said, “instead of me saying ‘thank you for your service,’ I want to say thank you for putting your life on hold 70 years ago to preserve our nation’s freedom and fight tyranny abroad.  Thank for your ensuring evil will not triumph or reach our nation shores.  Few people know the unique feeling of signing your life away for a cause greater than one’s self.  Few people know what it is like to raise your right hand and take an oath.  Few people know what it is like to put your life on hold and go to a foreign country to fight, knowing full well that a living, breathing, thinking enemy is waiting for them when they get there.  Your service to our country meant the preservation of our freedom for many years to come, and your sacrifices for our nation will never be forgotten.   Respectfully, Major Justin Amthor USMC.”

While speaking at a memorial service after the war, General George Patton said, “let’s not ask God why these men had to die. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”  As we kick off the summer this Memorial Weekend, may we pray for the men and women who sacrificed their lives to fight evil and protect freedom.  May we never forget them – and thank God that they lived.  May perpetual light shine upon them, and may they rest in peace.

Deacon John

 

Deacon John Bulletin, May 13 2018

Last Sunday, I wrote about a little boy named Emanuele who asked Pope Francis if his nonbelieving dad would go to Heaven.  After hearing what a good man Emanuele’s dad was, Pope Francis said, “God is the one who decides who goes to Heaven.”  This Sunday I thought I would take a look at the old question that never seems to go away – “Do unbaptized babies go to heaven?”

Limbo used to be a popular notion among Catholics to explain what happened to unbaptized infants who die.  Limbo, however, was never an official teaching of the Church.  It was simply a theoretical solution to the question of what happens to such children after death.  The question comes up because all people are born with Original Sin which is washed away with the sanctifying grace received through the Sacrament of Baptism.   However, very young children are not able to sin because they have not reached the age of reason.  But nothing impure can enter heaven.  So, does that mean they are to be condemned to Hell?  Limbo was an attempt by theologians (not the Church) during the Middle Ages to explain how unbaptized infants might be sent to a state called “Limbo” which derived from the Latin word “Limbus” meaning “border”.  Namely, they are neither in Heaven nor in Hell.

While Jesus didn’t reveal what happens to unbaptized infants who die, the Church’s official position is that Sacred Scripture and Tradition provide plenty of reason for us to hope that those innocent children enjoy the full happiness of eternity in Heaven.  Regarding children who die without Baptism, our Catechism says the Church can only entrust them to the great mercy of God who desires everyone to be saved (1261).  Jesus showed his tenderness to children when He said “Let the children come to me. Do not hinder them.” (Mark 10:14)  His words provide us hope there is always a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism.

So, with all that said, do unbaptized babies go to Heaven?  It really doesn’t seem fair if they don’t. And I do like what Pope Francis told Emanuele – God is the one who decides who goes to Heaven.  As I wrote last week, I think if we really believe in God’s love, we can trust him to do the right thing.  

Deacon John

Adapted from “Introduction to Catholicism for Adults” by Rev. James Socias; and the “International Theological Commission – Hope of Salvation for Infants who Die Without Being Baptized”, www.vatican.va

 

 

Deacon John Bulletin, April 29 2018

 

Did you ever wonder what the priest or deacon is praying quietly when adding a little water to the wine during the Preparation of the Gifts?  It is a beautiful prayer from the Roman Missal (that big red book Father prays from during Mass).  The words of the prayer are “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to celebrate the Divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”  That’s it.  Nothing concrete or absolute.  Just a simple prayer that we keep our hearts open and celebrate our life with God.  Too often in today’s world we want concrete facts and absolute answers.  But as Christians, God asks us to trust him – to take a leap of faith – that he has a plan, and the plan is good.   God’s plan is a mystery to us, as it should be, because we are only human, and that’s OK. May we pray today that we have the wisdom and patience to seek God’s plan for us and celebrate the Mystery of our life.

May you have a blessed week celebrating the Easter Season!

Deacon John

 

Town Hall Meeting Update!

 

Thank you to all who came out to the Town Hall meeting to discuss the progress of the flooring replacement project and receive feedback on the carpet selection options.  If you were unable to attend and would like to see the presentation, please click Town Hall Meeting Presentation – 04.12.18 (1).

 

If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to Deacon John at deaconjohn@sacredhearthudson.org.

 

Deacon John Bulletin Article, April 22 2018

I seem to be getting asked a lot about “spirituality” the past few weeks.   People wondering why their spirituality and prayer life is different from others.  I think spirituality can be look at much like “personality”.  Each of us has a unique personality.  Although personalities can be grouped into “types”, for the most part, we are all different.  So, why can’t we look at spirituality way?  Just like my personality is different from yours, so is my spirituality. One good look around the church at Eucharistic Adoration shows people reading devotionals, praying the rosary, on their knees in deep in prayer, and fixated on starring at the Eucharist.  All of them are worshiping God with their unique, and very different, spirituality.  And that’s something we must respect in each other.  Forcing my spirituality on you is like forcing you to act like me.

To understand our own spirituality, we must know where we are on our spiritual journey.  It’s a journey, for the most of us, that lasts a lifetime.  It only happens when we strive for holiness and desire to be with God.  That means our hearts and minds and actions are in full union with Him every day of our lives.  Our spiritual journey has three distinct phases.  It begins with the Purgative Phase where our soul yearns for more.  We experience an awakening, a wakeup call, and begin to recognize our desires and affections are not fed by an attraction to sin or worldly temptations.  Next, we move into the Illuminative Phase where we start to grow in prayer life and love for others.  We begin to think and act differently while developing a deepening desire to be with God.  Finally, we move to the Unitive Phase where a deep union with God brings an inner joy and profound humility to be content with ourselves and seek to make other’s lives more bearable.  St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a good example of living in the Unitive Phase.  Here, we are free from fear over suffering, loss, the unknown, evil, and even death.  The Unitive Phase is what we strive for – to experience God’s continual presence in our everyday life.

Whether we know it or not, each of us are traveling on this spiritual journey.  Maybe we are just beginning, while others have finished and home with the Lord now.  What’s important is to search our hearts to know where we are at on that road and strive to make the journey.  Isaiah wrote “A highway will be there, called the holy way; No one unclean may pass over it, but it will be for his people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray on it. No lion shall be there, nor any beast of prey approach, nor be found.  But there the redeemed shall walk.” (Isaiah 35 :8-9)  As we continue celebrating this Easer Season, may we pray for courage and perseverance to travel the Holy Way to become one with God.

Deacon John

 

Deacon John Bulletin Article, April 15 2018

It’s only been three weeks since we heard the Passion Story of Jesus.  A story where we can only imagine the pain of His mother and disciples as they watched him die a horrible death on the cross.  A pain we only begin to feel when we are separated from those we love.  That pain is the price of love.

Jesus felt the ultimate pain of separation when He paid the price of his love for us on the cross.  Jesus loves us so much that he came into our world as a vulnerable little baby.  He accepted the abuse of the teachers and elders of the law.  He was scorned, humiliated, and brutally beaten.  Jesus was nailed to a cross and pierced by a Roman warrior’s lance.  It was a painful “good-bye” for those he loved.  Because of love, Jesus suffered and died to be the perfect Passover sacrifice, standing in our place before the Father so we can live.

In the Gospel today, some disciples meet Jesus while walking home after the Passover.  They didn’t recognize him at first.  But after Jesus left, their hearts were on fire as His words opened Scripture to them.  This time, saying “good-bye” was not painful – it was joyful.  And although those disciples may not have understood the big picture yet of Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection they were exited and on fire with his love.

As we continue celebrating this Easter Season, can we share in those feelings of being on fire with our faith and his love?  Jesus died to give us life.  But, we live today not because Jesus died, but because of His love for us.  Now, like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, our job is to share His love with others.

Deacon John