Family Life

12-27-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

There are certain passages or letters that I love toread. The first reading for Mass today, on the Feast ofthe Holy Family, is one of those passages that fills mewith joy and gratitude. In this excerpt from the book ofSirach (3:2-6, 12-14), I am inspired and elated to readthese words: “My son, take care of your father when he isold; grieve him not as long as he lives.” I had thewonderful opportunity to help care for my father in thelast months of his life as he was on hospice care athome. I would go home for an overnight so I could get upearly and help my father with his medicine to give mymother help. I helped him with the very basic tasks of gettingdressed and cutting his toenails. He would tell me to getthe wire cutters from his tools for that job because histoenails were very thick. The roles of my childhood werereversed as I would take him for rides for a change ofscenery. As a child, we would take a ride on Sundays onthe North Fork. The last picture of my parents andsiblings was the Christmas before he died. It is so goodto see the joy in his face because of our presencetogether as a family.


The Gift of Forgiveness

12-20-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

This bulletin will serve as both our December 20th bulletin and our Christmas bulletin. As I write this, Christmas is just around the corner. Are you ready? Our ultimate preparation to truly celebrate Christmas is spiritual. All the lights, decorations, presents, and cards proclaim the joy that God has come among us. It is our day to say thank you for the gift of Jesus as the Church and as individuals. Our thanksgiving flows from the fact that Jesus is the source of all that is good. Year after year we buy gifts for those we love which express our love for them. In the end, it is not the material gift or its cost, but the love which it symbolizes. As my mother used to say, “Don’t buy me any gifts for Christmas, just come home.” Of course, we bought her gifts, but her real joy was the gift of our presence and ours was hers.


Living in the Light of God

12-13-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

How do you respond when someone asks you, “Who are you?” It really depends on who is asking that question and why it is being asked. We have our common characteristics and makeup as human beings and at the same time, each of us is unique. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (John 1:6-8, 19-28) the religious leaders of the time of John the Baptist send a group to ask him who He is. They see many people going to be “baptized” by him and wonder who he is. Ironically when they ask John the Baptist who he is he answers by telling them who he is not - he tells them he, not the Christ, not Elijah, not the Prophet. John the Baptist makes it clear that he is not the one they are looking for, but he does point the way to that person, a person so powerful and good that he is “not worthy to untie his sandal strap.” The gospel says that John the Baptist “was not the light but came to testify to the light.”


Overcoming Obstacles to Prayer

12-03-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

As I write the message the wind is howling outsideand there are reports of electrical outages and closedroads. The Smithtown app on my iPhone reports theproblems so we can either stay where we are or take amore circuitous route to where we have to be. Detoursare part of life at times. The key is not to lose our focusor be distracted from what is really important.

The first reading at Mass today (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11)calls us to “prepare the way of the Lord.” There aremany distractions that can cause us to lose ourawareness of what is really important in our lives,especially as far as our faith is concerned. In the firstreading, Isaiah urges us to look at where we are in ourlives and how God fits into the picture. We are beinginundated with calls to shop online or in person. We donot want the restrictions we face with the coronavirus tolessen our preparations for and celebration ofChristmas. We can be creative when we are faced withchallenges. The season of Advent is our family gift asthe Church to become more and more aware of howGod reaches out to us. As much as we want to beenriched by the joy that Christmas showers upon usas people of faith, God wants to make His promised,loving presence in Jesus clear and joyful.


Jesus Came, Saw, and Conquered Evil

11-29-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Veni, Vidi, Vici. These three Latin words were spoken by Julius Caesar after a victory in the first century. They mean “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Today we begin a new Church year with the First Sunday of Advent. At our Masses, we will listen to the prophets speak of the hopes for a Messiah. Why do we need a Messiah? To not ask that question or see that need is to be what Fr. Liu spoke of in one of his pithy Chinese sayings, it is to be a frog at the bottom of the well.


Being Proactive in our Faith

11-19-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

There are certain times in our lives when we look back with gratitude and look forward with hope. Today is the Feast of Christ the King and is the final Sunday in this current Church year. Next Sunday we will begin a new Church year and our spiritual preparation for Christmas with the First Sunday of Advent. Looking back at this current Church year, we have seen things we never saw before. In March, the pandemic closed our churches for Mass, but we were able to use technology to Livestream our Masses every day. On Sundays, you were invited to come to the front of the church in your cars and be blessed by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I have been writing a message every day since the middle of March to encourage, thank, and let you know you are a very important part of who we are as the family of St. Patrick. We come into our church building now and see every other pew blocked off. Each week we seem to have more and more people coming. It is good to see everyone aware of one another as we wear masks and keep our distance socially. As your pastor, I am delighted to be able to pray with you and to greet you after the Masses. Hopefully, these restrictions caused by the coronavirus will be taken away when a good vaccine is found soon.


Lighting Up the Lives of Others

11-15-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

As we go through life we face many different kinds of fears or restraints on what we say, think, or do. One of the inspirational people I have been blessed to become friends with is a man who only has use of his left hand and is strapped into his wheelchair. I have had the privilege of helping him get out of his chair. It is amazing to see how he has so many physical straps to keep him in place. He has a seat belt, chest strap, shoulder strap over his head, and two straps on each foot. Yet his mental attitude is just the opposite. He uses his limited physical abilities to phone, e-mail, and have Zoom meetings with family and friends. Whenever we are out together, he always amazes people with his joyful, gracious, engaging attitude.


Reaching Out in Love and Mercy

11-08-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

I am writing this Sunday column on Tuesday morning, election day. Tuesday is my day to do this because we have to send the bulletin to the publisher by noon on Wednesday. At this point, I have voted and have no idea who will win the election, but I am intrigued by the word election. As I wrote this past Tuesday, an elect is used not only as a verb but also in the Church as a noun. The Jewish people were the elect, God’s chosen people. All of us who are part of the Body of Christ, the Church, in the world are the elect or God’s chosen ones.


Can We Go Back?

11-01-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. TheSaints are human beings like you and me who embracedtheir faith and lived it with all their heart, soul, mind, andstrength. Each year on this feast day, the Gospel is fromMatthew 5:1-12, the Beatitudes. As part of my prayersevery day I say the Beatitudes. All eight of them point tohow rich the gift of Jesus is in our lives and our presencein His life. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the Kingdom ofHeaven is theirs.” Poverty is not something we readilyembrace living in middle-class America. The key is tomove beyond the idea of material poverty to the blessingof poverty Jesus is talking about. I am rich when I pourout my heart in love to others. In his book “The EightDoors of the Kingdom” by Jacques Philippe, he offersthis insight: “What does this spiritual poverty consistof? If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I would say it isessentially a form of freedom, the freedom to receiveeverything freely and give everything freely.” We areanticipated and loved as we grow in our mother’s womband embraced physically with great joy the moment weare born. Life is a gift. Love is a gift. We are simplyblessed with it unconditionally the moment we areconceived and born.


Let Us Not Be Pretenders

10-25-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Back in 1955, there was a song by the Platters called The Great Pretender. The opening lyrics are: “Oh yes, I’m the great pretender.” To be a pretender means we are not what we appear to be on the outside and we are trying to hide our real feelings, thoughts, or identity. That thought is in complete contrast to what I prayed in the breviary in morning prayer last Tuesday, the Feast of St. Paul of the Cross: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever; do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.” (Hebrews 7:9) That verse was followed by a response prayer: “On your walls Jerusalem I have set my watchmen to guard you.” As a priest, one of my responsibilities is to be a watchman, helping those I serve to see anything that would weaken their faith or blind them to the goodness of God and His love for them. As Catholics, we are not pretenders. We are contenders, asserting our faith by our way of life. We are not out to impose our beliefs on others but are people who want our beliefs to be respected. After all, we have been around for 2,000 years and have seen many political systems come and go. That means living who we are without concern for what others think. We believe in Jesus who “is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” That does not mean we are doomed to a monotonous, rote daily life, but people blessed with the gift of faith in Jesus who is truly the Way, Truth, and Life.


A Lost Sense of Beauty

10-18-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the simple, refreshing experiences I have is taking a walk just before sunset around our school and church. At times I am awed by the beautiful tall trees with their leaves as I walk west by the school. How beautifully blue the sky is on a clear day. Creation is a gift from God. Even more, human life is a gift from God. We have been created in His image and He has entrusted the whole world to our care. What an awesome, humbling thought. With all that is going on in our world with the coronavirus and the upcoming election, it is all too easy to get angry, worried, confused, and irritable, to lose our sense of wonder.


Giving God Our Undivided Attention

10-11-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

To whom or what do we give undivided attention? Our family and friends come to mind even when we are not with them. It is good to remember them because those very thoughts are a sign of our love for them. Our time and attention are also consumed at times by people or situations that upset us. Being at odds with people we love or deal with on a regular basis causes us to use time and mental energy in anger or disappointment. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Matthew 22:1-14), we have the parable of a king who invites guests to his son’s wedding. When the king sends his servants to bring the invited guests, they refuse to come. Some of them show their unwillingness to come by physically abusing some servants and even killing others. The king obviously does not take this well, so he responds by sending his troops who “destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” As harsh as the rejection of the invitation was, the spurned host was even harsher.


10-04-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the ways to recognize the blessings we have is to look back at our childhood. In our early years through high school, we have all we need from our parents. They sacrifice, guide, teach, and most of all love us unconditionally. That scenario is portrayed in both the first reading (Isaiah 5:1-7) and the Gospel (Matthew 21:33-43) for Mass today. Both readings speak of a vineyard that has been cleared, planted, and fully prepared for growth and harvest and then entrusted to the care of tenants. That is a parallel to our nation today. We have so many advances, privileges, and freedoms that have been passed on to us. They are ours to use and preserve for those who will come after us. Only if we are grateful for what we have and cherish our blessings as gifts, not entitlements, will we keep the moral, social, and spiritual fabric of our nation intact? One of the most useful things we can do is to step back from all the controversy, anger, and chaos and see who we are and whose we are. To help do that, I am sharing these words from the editor of the Knights of Columbus magazine in the September 2020 edition: