One of the interesting things we see as we read the Gospels is that as much as people come to Jesus in great numbers with faith and hope, He is also readily recognized by evil or unclean spirits. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Mark 1:21-28) Jesus entered a synagogue and a man who had an unclean spirit cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are- the Holy One of God!” Jesus drove the unclean or evil spirit out of the man. Jesus came to free us from sin, our personal sins as well as the sins of those who bring chaos, suffering, tension, and disunity into our world and into our lives. He came to destroy the power of evil, but, even more to empower us with His Spirit of love, mercy, and truth.READ MORE
One in four people will be affected by a mental health problem at some point in their lives, yet the stigma surrounding mental illness silences many and prevents faith communities from responding compassionately and effectively. This eight-session course— designed for use in small groups—explores the realities of mental health and illness, as well as the vital need for faith-based community conversations about these topics. The sessions are accompanied by compelling films that feature the stories of Catholics living with mental health challenges, along with the insights of archbishops, theologians, and psychologists. The course also includes a Leader’s Guide, Participant’s Guide, and additional educational and spiritual resources.
One of the words we use to speak about who we are and what is do is “calling.” What is our calling in life? Sometimes the call comes from deep in our hearts. At other times it comes from other people. When I was studying for the priesthood, last four years I was “called” to different steps, the last being the call to be ordained a priest. The first call was in the first year of theology and was the call to the clerical state in a ceremony called tonsure. That was followed by the call to be officially a porter and a lector, where we knelt before the bishop and were ordained for those offices. In the early church, the porter was what we would call the maintenance man. I have done that countless times as a priest, unlocking and locking the doors, turning the lights on and off, and all the other simple things in the everyday operation of the church building. Following that we were called to exorcist and acolyte. Only very holy priests actually perform exorcisms, while acolyte is officially being an altar boy. Following that, we were called to be ordained a subdeacon, deacon, and finally a priest. Each time we got the call we went into the rector’s office and he said, “Congratulations, you have been called to this particular ministry.” But before we were called for each of these ministries (called “minor orders”) the faculty of the seminary voted us in. We were evaluated by them before we could go on each time.READ MORE
This new film is the world's biggest documentary on Pope St. John Paul II. It reveals his remarkable legacy in the history of the Church and the world, as well as how his extraordinary personality, generosity, courage, and sense of humor united people on all continents, regardless of their social status, age, or religious beliefs. It utilizes exclusive archival footage featuring St. John Paul II, as well as a lot of original shots made for this comprehensive film. Produced in HD quality, and four years in the making, it was filmed in thirteen countries. It features many world famous figures from the Church, as well as politics, entertainment, and news industries, and their inspiring, insightful thoughts about and experiences with John Paul II.READ MORE
The “New Atheists” are pulling no punches. If the world of nature needs a designer,they ask, then why wouldn't the designer itself need a designer, too? Or if it can existwithout any designer behind it, then why can't we just say the same for the universeand wash our hands of a designer altogether? Interweaving its pursuit of the FirstCause with personal stories and humor, this ground-breaking book takes a freshapproach to ultimate questions. While attentive to empirical science, it builds its casenot on authoritative pronouncements of experts that readers must take on faith, butinstead on a nuanced understanding of universal principles implicit in everyone'sexperience. Here is essential reading for all people who care about contemplatingGod, not exclusively as a best explanation for the findings of science, but also as thesurprising-yet-inevitable implication of our common sense contact with reality. Augrosharnesses such intellects as Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, ushering into the light awealth of powerful inferences that have hitherto received little or no public exposure.The result is an easygoing yet extraordinary journey, beginning from the world as weall encounter it, and ending in the divine mind.
Where is permanence in life? As much as we seek and find security in using our talents and resources to take care of ourselves and those we love, we are on a journey. Life is a journey. As I look at my life, I have lived in nine different houses. Growing up, my parents rented houses in four different places in Greenport before they finally bought one. As a priest I have lived in five different parishes, St. Patrick’s is the place I have lived the longest in my whole life. Our houses are shelters that become homes where we are accepted, nourished, encouraged, and find peace. But we must also be mindful of the fact that our life in this world is a road to our final destination, the fullness of God’s presence. We look for permanence and peace in our lives, but they are only a taste of the permanence and peace that await us in God’s presence in heaven.
In today’s Gospel (John 1:335-42), two of the disciples of John the Baptist see Jesus and start to follow Him. Jesus sees them and asks, “What are you looking for?” The answer, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus replies, “Come, and you will see.” We are all looking for what those two men sought, the peace, meaning, and hope that come from finding the meaning of our lives in Jesus. We look for security in this world, but the ultimate security comes when we come to see through the light of faith who we are, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. We find comfort and security in this life, but we know in our hearts that there is something more. Jesus is that something more.
When I was growing up and going to Religious Ed, there was a much greater focus on sin and judgment than we have today. Jesus did not come to “scare the hell out of us” but to open our minds and hearts to the path to peace that only our faith in God can illuminate for us. Human intelligence and reason have created many advances in so many areas, but we go down the path of darkness when we exalt reason alone and push God out of the picture. In a book I am reading now, “Western Culture, Today and Tomorrow” by Pope Benedict XVI, he says: “Let us not forget, however, that the God of reason and love is also the Judge of the world and mankind - the guarantor of justice, to whom we must all render an accounting. Given the temptations to power, it is a fundamental obligation to keep in mind the truth about the Judgment: every one of us must someday give an account. There is a justice that is not abolished by love.”READ MORE
In our lives we encounter many people. Those who love us bring us joy just by their presence as we do for them. Then there are people who help us in difficult situations and those who inspire us. We are uplifted most by those who accept us and meet us where we are. That is what today’s feast, the Baptism of the Lord is all about. Jesus went to be baptized by John the Baptist. He did not do that because He was looking for forgiveness for sins and the blessing of God, He began His public ministry with that experience because He came to meet us where we are. In the Gospel from last Monday (Matthew 4:12- 17, 23-25), we see that Jesus heard about the imprisonment of John the Baptist by King Herod. He left that region and went elsewhere to preach, heal, and offer God’s love. His goal was not to confront evil as much as empower us with the Spirit of God’s life, love, and truth. All societies need laws and guidelines. But even more basic is being empowered to live freely, peacefully, and justly. That is exactly what Jesus came to do. One of the most basic foundations for any society, nation, or organization of people is the Ten Commandments. They are very basic, straightforward, and simple. To seek to change, modify, or revoke any one of them is to put ourselves in direct conflict with God and ultimately with one another. Jesus expanded our understanding of the Ten Commandments by the basic and practical ways He preached, healed, and reached out to those in front of Him. His words, presence, attitude, and actions brought peace, truth, healing, and hope, all of which opened minds and hearts to how we are empowered by the presence of Jesus in our lives. He is the one who enables us to see the truth of who we are and live that truth with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Those we love are never a burden to us. We are never a burden to Jesus. He took the burden of our sins and died for them on the cross. He completed His earthly life by loving and forgiving in His last three hours on the cross. In a crossword puzzle I was doing last week, the clue was: that which makes the world rotate. The answer was love. First and foremost it is the love of God who created the world. When we couple His creative power and love with our creative power and love, we make the world go round in peace, hope, joy, and gratitude.READ MORE
In one of the first days I was in my assignment in St. Thomas More in Hauppauge, I got a call about 3:00 AM in the morning that someone had died in their house up in the Pines section. Not very familiar with the area, I looked at a map, drove slowly through the area, found the house (the police car was a good hint). Now I use two tools that I find excellent to find a place I have never been before. One is the app called WAZE which is very good and the other is the program of maps I have on this this computer which has streets with house shapes on them. I count the number of houses and find it very easily. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, where the Magi followed a star that led them to the Christ Child. How blessed they were to have the courage to follow that star which led them to God Himself in the Child Jesus. Our journey into His presence is much easier and readily convenient. We can come to our church or any church and find Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or we can just put ourselves into His presence through prayer.
In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” As long as He is the foundation and guide in our lives, we have our bearings mentally, morally, and spiritually. He is the Way to live our lives every day because He is the Truth of who we are and what we are truly capable of in the best sense possible as human beings created in the very image and likeness of God Himself. He is the Life that leads to the peace of mind that our journey in this world is a great blessing and will only be complete when we meet Him face to face when we die. Death is not the end of Life, but its completion as we enter into eternity, seeing Him face to face and being reunited with those who have gone before us.READ MORE