Prayer, Fasting, and Good Works

02-17-2019From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Seventeen days from today is Ash Wednesday, a day when we proclaim our resolve to rise above sin and evil by having blessed ashes placed on our foreheads. Rising above evil is far more than just avoiding temptation in our personal lives. Truly rising above evil calls us to be beacons of faith, hope, and love in our world, and in particular, in our daily lives. In our parish we will offer two very concrete ways to join together as a parish family to enrich the lives of one another as life-giving members of the Body of Christ, the Church in the world. They will offer what we hear in the Gospel for Ash Wednesday (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18) which is from the Sermon on the Mount. This powerful sermon by Jesus is presented in chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew’s Gospel and spells out in very practical ways how to live the Beatitudes which begin this Sermon. The Gospel for Ash Wednesday invites us to take seriously three very important practices for our spiritual lives: prayer, fasting, and good works.

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I Hear You Knocking But You Can't Come In

02-10-2019From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in.” These words are from a 1970 song by Dave Edmunds and in many ways these words describe the feelings we have when we are challenged to allow others into our lives or to do something that is different, difficult, or controversial. These past weeks I have been writing about the evil of abortion and the challenges we face as people of faith with this issue. What has brought abortion to the forefront was the passage in our New York State legislature of the Reproductive Act a few weeks ago that allows abortion up until the very day of birth. In a sense, children in the womb get ready for birth by knocking on the door of their mother’s womb to come to birth, that is, to come physically into our world, and most importantly, into our lives. How did we become so barbaric, insensitive, and evil? What continues to push us over the edge of love, decency, truth, and common sense in this area? There is someone else knocking to come in and the door has been opened wide to him - the devil!!!

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The Support and Promotion of Death

02-03-2019From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“How can you be so obtuse?” These were the words of Andy Dufresne, the main character in the movie Shawshank Redemption. He was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. When a new prisoner came to where he was imprisoned, that prisoner told him someone else in another jail where he had been bragged that he killed Andy’s wife and lover and got away with it. Andy eagerly brought this information to the warden who refused to act on it and even plotted and had that new prisoner killed. He had Andy put in the “hole,” a place of solitary confinement for two months. He was using Andy and his banking knowledge to hide money. It was not how he could be so obtuse, but why he was obtuse. To be obtuse is to be totally insensitive to others or their situation.

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The Ordinary Can Be Extraordinary

01-27-2019From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the joyful experiences in our lives is celebrating special occasions. We gather with family and friends to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baptisms, confirmations, and retirements, to mention a few. The mood is usually festive and there is a spirit of joy brought about by those who are present. Each person makes a difference by their presence. That is why they are invited in the first place. How good it is to be one of those people. Last Sunday’s Gospel reading called us to reflect on the first miracle recorded in St. John’s Gospel (2:1-11). No one is sick, dying, possessed, or in danger. The only problem is that the couple apparently did not plan for the consumption of wine by the guests and they ran out. How fortunate they were to have invited Jesus and His mother to their celebration. Mary tells Jesus there is a problem: “They have no more wine!” Jesus’ response seems to indicate there is nothing He can do about it: “Woman, how does this concern of yours involve me?” But Mary knows her son and His love for her and all people. Jesus tells the waiters to fill the large jars with water and He changes the water into wine. What was an embarrassing situation turned into a wonderful experience for the couple and all present. Jesus took water, a common element in our world and changed it into wine. The ordinary became extraordinary. There are many meanings to be seen here. First of all Jesus is saying to all of you who are married, “I love you and I care about you. Turn to me and I will hear your prayers and give you the grace and power you need to live your married love to the fullest.” As husband and wife you complement one another. You enrich one another and enable each other to be far more than you would be without each other. To those who become parents, He says, “You are like God, you create new life where there was no life before. Not only do you bring new life into the world, you sacrifice with love for your children. How wonderful to see you live in the image in which human beings were created.” What might seem normal and ordinary is extraordinary. One of the wonderful things we teach in the Church is that husbands and wives are signs of Christ’s love for us. You give us a living example of how Jesus gave Himself as you give yourselves to each other.

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The Truth About Choice

01-20-2019From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

With the conclusion of the Masses last Sunday where we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we entered another phase of the Church Liturgical Year called ordinary time. This portion of ordinary time will last until March 8, 2019 which is Ash Wednesday. From that point on we will focus on the forty days of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and the fifty days of Easter. Then on Monday, June 8, 2019 we will once again resume ordinary time in our Liturgical Year. Even though we call our current time ordinary, there is nothing ordinary or mundane about it. Yes, we all have our daily routines. The lights, decorations, and splendor of Christmas decorations have run their course and now we are in ordinary time of winter in the world of nature. But there is nothing ordinary about our lives. If we get ourselves into the rut of a routine we can all too easily slip into the melancholy idea expressed in the first line of my column last week which came from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes 1:9: “What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!” The ordinary presence of the people we love and who love us are far from melancholy and mundane. Their presence is inspiring, encouraging, and life giving. Hopefully we can see the joy we bring to all those we encounter every day. Most importantly, hopefully we can see the presence of God.

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The Lessons of History

01-13-2019From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!” This quote, from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes 1:9, at times can seem pessimistic and dooming. We know that if we do not learn from the mistakes made by those who preceded us in history, we are doomed to repeat them. What is new is what we are completing our celebration of in a special way in our Church year today; the celebration of the birth of Jesus. In Jesus, God entered our world. Why? Simply because He loves us. We are free to accept this love and grow in our life with Him and we are free to go our own way.

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The Free Gift of God's Love

01-06-2019From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Whenever we are looking to do something well we have to put our heart, soul, mind, and strength into it. At times it takes a lot of courage and energy. We really have to believe in what we are doing. Determination is defined as firmness of purpose or resoluteness. The more determined we are, the more we plumb he depths of our heart, soul, mind and strength. During Advent we reflected on the words of the prophets and came to see clearly God’s determination to send a Savior to us. Jesus is the one who fulfilled these prophecies and promises. God spoke through the prophets even though many times people ignored the message. God was not put off by human indifference or rejection. The determining factor was His all encompassing, unconditional love. God never stopped and will never stop loving us. During the Christmas Season we reflect on the wonder and awe of the birth of Jesus through the eyes of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds who heeded the message of the angel to go to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child as an infant, and the Magi who journeyed to see Him.

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