From the Pastor ~ Nov. 10, 2013

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

It’s always the same when I’m trying to get ready for a trip, to be away for even a few days. I worry about all the stuff that still needs to get done, it is hard to sleep and even to see beyond the moment of departure. Once I’m on the plane usually I’m fine, and I have the sense that I did what I could in order to be on my way. But up until that point I find it hard to go.

I imagine getting to heaven to be most like that moment when you lift off from the runway and there is a kind of peace that settles in. We did all we could, let the anticipation of what is about to happen open up before us. Still, departures are just so hard.

You will see in the church our version of scrolls which include the names of all those deceased loved ones for whom we provided services since last November 2, All Souls’ Day. We include their names so that we will remember to pray for them. I’ve heard it said that we most hold on to our grief at the loss of someone we love because we are afraid that we will forget them. It is in the offering of the Mass, though, that we gather together all those who have lived before us, all present, and all those yet to come into one eternal self-emptying act of love to God the Father, in remembrance. His body is made up of all: Jesus Christ is mercy, because his Communion isn’t just the glorious assembly of the saints in heaven, but also us sinners here on earth, and the sinners who have already died and await that glory. As Christ we offer that body of faith, hope and love every time we gather for liturgy. Our perfection on this earth is in our hoping.

We celebrate during the month of November all those who have gone before us, , but we also reflect this month on how we are preparing ourselves for the journey – how are we making arrangements, what are we packing, how are we saying goodbye? Are we leaving a culture of reconciliation and love behind, in the expectation of discovering the perfection of life to come? Have we lived so as to fulfill God’s plan and our potential in a way that is truly full, active and conscious? On a most basic level, I think that involves a goal being able to see what is true, beautiful and good in ourselves, but even more importantly finding it in others. Looking not in a mirror, but to the horizon.

This week I’m headed to Italy. The ultimate reason for this trip is a wedding this coming weekend in Florence, for the daughter of some good friends. While there, it makes sense to look around a little before and after, right? So, I’ll be in Rome for a couple of days, hopefully aending Pope Francis’ audience on Wednesday. Then a couple of days in Florence and Tuscany. I’ve never been to Lucca and the coast of the Cinque Terre, so I thought maybe I’d check that out. After the wedding, a few days with the bride’s family in Siena. By the time you get the next bulletin I’ll be back already, so I’ll say goodbye and hello right here since deadlines are early. But I want you to know that you are remembered in prayers and Masses throughout the trip, especially Masses at St. Peter in Rome, early in the mornings on Monday and Tuesday when I am there. I will offer Mass for all of you near the tomb of Peter. Because we always have to remember to pray for the living, too.

It so happens that while I’m gone this weekend we welcome Cross Catholic Outreach for their presentation on the missions and how we can be involved in their work. Please respond generously as you are able for all the good work they do and the missionaries they represent. Then we come to the Solemnity of Christ the King, and the end of our church year of 2013 and the annual unfolding of the Mysteries of Christ begins all over again with the Year of Grace 2014 with the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 1.

I guess that, too, is a moment of “lifting off” to a new year, filled with anticipation and joy.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ Nov. 3, 2013

Join us on Thursday, November 7 at 7pm for a presentation by Daoud Nassar, a Christian Palestinian, whose family farm and orchard stand alone, surrounded by Israeli selements in Bethlehem. His mission is to bring the Palestinians and Israelis together in solidarity to live in peace. 

Enjoy the return of our Organ Concert Series on Friday, November 8 at 8pm. Organist Russell Weismann provides a free concert in our church. 

Middle School Youth Group meets this Sunday, November 3 from 3:30 to 4:30pm in the Parish Life Center. Join us for an hour of faith, fun and friends. 

If you are in 5th grade or above and are interested in being an Altar Server please contact the Parish Office to sign up for training classes to be held from 7-8pm, November 12, 14, 19 and 21. 

Our Mass with Anointing of the Sick will now be held on Saturday, November 23 at 9am. This is a change from the Parish Calendar, which has it listed on November 9. 

The annual Keep Christ in Christmas card sale, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, has begun. Please stop by the Parish Life Center to purchase your Christmas cards and other Christmas items. 

SCRIP is on sale in the Parish Life Center aer all Masses except Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm. Please use SCRIP, and a percentage of what you spend will be applied to our school. 

Sunday Coffee Shop is scheduled to be open this weekend, after the 7, 8:30 & 10:30 Masses.

From the Pastor ~ Nov. 3, 2013

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

On one of my trips to Bethlehem several years ago, I had the good fortune to arrange a visit to the Tent of Nations in the Judean hills south of the city. I have been to Bethlehem probably eight times over the past 12 years, oen on trips which are scheduled around meetings such as this one, in which we met Daoud Nassar, a man whose family has lived on his land for centuries.

He survives on a hilltop, surrounded by lands that have been occupied illegally by Israeli selers. This was the cold truth we discover each time we go (from the Tent of Nations website): “Bethlehem has a centuries- old spiritual, cultural and economic link with Jerusalem, located only a few kilometers away. It is highly dependent on religious pilgrims and tourism for its economic survival. However, the Israeli policy of constructing selements and the Wall around Bethlehem has turned the city from a social and lively spirit to an isolated town from Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Palestinians are forbidden to move between the two cities, and the service industry in the West Bank has been roughly destroyed, most locals who depend on welcoming visitors are struggling to earn their daily living and their basic needs.”

Daoud has spent most of his adult life with a full-time job of trying to hold onto his land. “Israeli Selers” come into Palestinian territories and take control of lands. Then they start fights. The Israeli police are called in to “protect” the selers, then they build fortified, armed buildings. Lile by lile through intimidation and confiscation, the Palestinians are pushed out. Daoud has, over the years, found support from all churches in all countries who have joined with him in holding onto his land despite the refusal for water and building permits, the harassment, the difficulty. This is the “Tent of Nations.”

This is his story and he is coming on Thursday to tell it. It is a story you must hear. As many of you probably know, about 12 years ago I and some friends started a nonprofit called “Holy Land Christians’ Society” whose purpose was to promote the presence of Christians in Israel-Palestine. We took pictures of the new walls that were going up around the Palestinian territories and took them to Congress to get the story out. We raise money to support tuition scholarships for Christian schools (Catholic and Orthodox) in the Bethlehem area, schools who combine the student population of Christians and Muslims so that peace is something that begins with youth. Each Christmas St. Mary (you) support an orphanage (The Creche) with part of the Christmas collection — a place with limited activities because of the occupation and barriers and checkpoints.

We started doing this because we realized that the Christians in Palestine — that’s right, Christian Arabs — were formerly 30% of the total population and have been run off, now less than 2%. Somebody had to get the story out to a world that wasn’t even aware that there had been Christians living in the land of Christ. Christian institutions — monasteries, schools, hospitals, nursing homes — were in danger of extinction due to lack of mobility and religious Sisters and Priests were not allowed visas, so they could either never leave or be replaced. I traveled once with the director of Catholic Relief Services who told me that the inhumanity in Israel- Palestine is not as extreme as in many places of the world (though thousands are held in undisclosed prison camps) but that what has developed is a culture of fear, which so easily erupts in anger and violence. The work of peace, he said, is nowhere more needed, because the whole world looks to Jerusalem to see what direction their next action might take. An act of violence in Bethlehem is felt around the world — just as the Birth of a King, the Son of God, was a global event.

Come and hear Daoud’s message: “We refuse to be enemies.”

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ Oct. 27, 2013

Come to the Council of Catholic Women Annual Bazaar and Bake Sale on Sunday morning – Lots of great gifts for Christmas!

Come to our Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life and Marriage on Sunday afternoon at 3:30pm in the church.

All Saints Day (Friday, Nov. 1) is a Holy Day of Obligation. Our Masses are at 6pm on October 31, and 6:30 & 9am, 12 Noon, 6 & 7:30pm on November 1. All Night Adoration follows the 7:30pm Mass on November 1.

Remember to include your loved ones in our annual All Souls’ Day Novena of Masses. Envelopes were included in your bi-monthly envelope packet. Additional envelopes are available in the vestibule or in the Parish office.

Holy Cross Academy once again has its World’s Finest Chocolate Sale outside the church today. Purchase delicious chocolate and help support our School!

The annual Keep Christ in Christmas card sale, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, has begun. Please stop by the Parish Life Center to purchase your Christmas cards and other Christmas items.

SCRIP is on sale in the Parish Life Center after all Masses except Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm. Please use SCRIP, and a percentage of what you spend will be applied to our school.

Sunday Coffee Shop is scheduled to be open this weekend, after the 7, 8:30 & 10:30 Masses.