Our Moral Direction

01-26-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

With all the attention being paid to what is going on in Washington, D.C., one of the issues that surely needs coverage but is almost totally ignored is the Annual March For Life which took place this past Friday, January 24th in our nation's capital. Tens of thousands of people gathered once again to speak up for the defense of the children growing in the womb whose lives are threatened by abortion. Each year more than 900,000 abortions are performed in our country, and since the legalization of abortion in our country on January 22, 1973, more than 60 million children have lost their lives. There is a lot of controversy about the large number of immigrants seeking to enter our country illegally and what to do with them, but in the media and politically, nothing is be said about the havoc and horror wreaked by abortion. Why? Have we hardened our hearts, dulled our consciences, and become ambivalent? When I pray the breviary one of the introductory Psalms is Psalm 95 and these words jumped out last week as I was praying them:


Come and See

01-19-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

What is it that attracts us to other people? We see their personal goodness, kindness, thoughtfulness, and joy and start to reach out to them so we will not only know them better, but so they can come to see our positive attributes and come to know us. As relationships develop, we enhance the positive qualities of one another and each become more than we would ever be without one another. The key is to be open to one another and express our gratitude to each other for the difference we make to each other. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist sees Jesus and proclaims to all who are listening, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” As John continues to speak, he explains that he did not know who Jesus was until he saw the Spirit descend upon Him when He came to be baptized by John. The Spirit of God is the third person of the Blessed Trinity who is the life, love, truth, and wisdom of God. John, like all of the faithful people of Israel, was waiting for God to send the Messiah, to fulfill His promise to send the Savior. John’s proclamation pointing Jesus out is an invitation to all who are listening and to us to reach out to Jesus and come to know Him.


Pints With Aquinas by Matt Fradd

01-19-2020Formed Suggestion of the Week

January 28 is the feast day of Saint Thomas Aquinas. In celebration, Matt Fradd sits down with Peter Kreeft as he shares 12 quick stories about Saint Thomas Aquinas.


Jesus Does Not Write Us Off

01-12-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

When we meet people where we think they are personally, we either accept them or hold back with reluctance, pondering whether we should ignore them, write them off, or just gossip about them. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, where Jesus went to the place where John the Baptist was baptizing people. John’s ritual baptism was not what we experience in the Sacrament of Baptism which brings us into the life of God, making us children of God. His was a ritual where people made a commitment to repent or change what was not good in their lives. Obviously Jesus did not need to repent when He went out to where John the Baptist was. Here we see clearly the willingness and desire of Jesus to meet us where we are. Many of the people who came to John were sincere in their desire to make changes in their lives and to rise above and beyond what was not good. John “baptized” people by immersing them in the river. One of the symbolic messages was that when you were immersed fully in the water your sins were being washed away and your heart was relieved of their burdens by your desire to change. When Jesus was immersed in the water by John, there was no sin in Him, nor was their a need to change what was not good. Jesus was humbly meeting us where we are by going into the water with the “dirt” of our sins and the human desire to change for the better. This was the beginning of Jesus public ministry. We are invited to reflect on this event in the first decet of the rosary on Thursdays when we are enlightened by the Mysteries of Light. Jesus did not come to those who were perfectly cleansed of sin and completely open to God’s presence. He came to meet us where we are in our daily lives with our faults and failures and our desire for inner peace, hope, and meaning in life. Jesus did not come and say, “Change and I will accept you and shower you with my love.” His baptism by John tells us that He came and says: “I love you where you are. Let my love open your mind and heart to how good you are and can be, how powerful and life giving my love is and your love can be, and how meaningful your life can be.”


Reborn: You, Your Child, and the Heart of Baptism

01-12-2020Formed Suggestion of the Week

Each year in our parish, hundreds of children are baptized. What does it all mean? Reborn is a video series that takes an in-depth look at this power rite.

Reborn explores the deeply personal power of Baptism, bringing to light the spiritual reality for parents and godparents and, most importantly, the child being baptized. Rendered with a cinematic beauty that's become the hallmark of the Augustine Institute's film productions, Reborn presents the foundation of the Church's teaching on Baptism, with a step-by-step explanation of the rite itself, including its profound place in Scripture and Tradition.

The Series Includes
Session 1 - A New Creation: The Mystery of Baptism Explained
Session 2 - Entering the Mystery: The Rite Explained
Session 3 - Nurturing the Life of Grace: Called to Mission
Session 4 - The Mission to Love: 7 Keys to Catholic Parenting
Session 5 - The Gift of Godparents: More Than Cards and Presents


The Case for Jesus by Dr. Brant Pitre

01-05-2020Formed Suggestion of the Week

Dr. Pitre exposes the problems with the many false theories that have resulted in widespread skepticism about the reliability of Christianity.


Seeing the Christ Child with Wonder, Awe and Gratitude

01-05-2020From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Light is an amazing gift that we so easily take for granted. How good it is to have a clear sunny day where everything we see is clear. At night we have the stars that adorn the darkened sky. Centuries ago, travelers used the stars to find their way from one point to another. Today we have the GPS built into our cars and into our phones. This system gives precise directions by voice so all we have to do is listen and follow the directions. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany where the Magi journeyed a distance to find the Christ child. They were guided by the light of a star. It was not what they were searching for but who they were seeking. Once they found where the star was leading them they knelt down in humble gratitude and offered their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They found the one promised since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden after the Original Sin was committed: “Then the LORD God said to the snake: Because you have done this, cursed are you among all the animals, tame or wild; On your belly you shall crawl, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15) This little child lying in a manger is the promised Messiah, Savior, and Redeemer. He is the one we all have an inner thirst and need to encounter.


Journey through Scripture

12-29-2019Formed Suggestion of the Week

This dynamic Bible study program designed to help ordinary Catholics grow in their knowledge of the Scriptures while deepening their understanding of the riches of our faith. Distinctively Catholic, Journey through Scripture reads the Bible from the heart of the Church, engaging both the Old and New Testaments and how they work together. It's grounded in history, yet actively engages topics faced by today's Catholic. It’s much more than an ordinary Bible study.


Our Many Blessings

12-29-2019From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace.” These words of blessing from the first reading express what we all truly need and look for in life: God’s blessing! Four days ago, we celebrated THE BLESSING for us and all human beings: the gift of God Himself coming into our world as one of us in Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise God made in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, when He told Adam and Eve after they had committed the Original Sin, that He would send a Savior to crush the power of evil and bring us God’s love, mercy, and peace, that is, God’s blessing seen above. The words of the promise were spoken in God’s response to the serpent for having tempted Adam and Eve: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head while you strike at his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

It is very easy to recognize the presence of evil in our world. We are bombarded daily with reports of people hurting, killing, despising, and degrading one another. But we are where we are and who we are because of the blessing of God in our lives. As we leave another year of life and embark on a new one, it is good to see the blessings we have and to thank God for them. Our parish family reached out in love during 2019 to educate more than 400 students in our Parish School and more than 1,400 children in our Religious Ed Program. We Baptized 216 babies, had more than 250 children receive their First Holy Communion. In the spring, 196 young people were Confirmed and during the year 44 couples celebrated their weddings here. We walked the journey of sadness with 143 families who had the funerals of their loved ones. Week in and week out our Parish Outreach Office offers comfort and assistance to those in need. Thousands of children are involved in our Youth Ministry through sports. All of this is possible because we are living our faith, recognizing our blessings, and in that process becoming a blessing to all God entrusts to our care.


The Story of the Nativity

12-22-2019Formed Suggestion of the Week

The story of the birth of Jesus is often misunderstood. But this fast-paced, thought-provoking look at the true story of the Nativity clears away widespread misunderstandings of Jesus' origin. Join top scholars, inspirational speakers, and popular authors as they explain the story behind the story of the birth of Jesus. The Story of the Nativity also includes stunning works of art depicting the biblical story, from Fra Angelico to Rembrandt, and footage from the Holy Land showing the places where the Christmas story actually took place. Explore the true story of Mary and Joseph, Jesus's miraculous conception, the birth of John the Baptist, the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the Star of Bethlehem, and the birth of Jesus. This is an invaluable tool for believer and unbeliever alike to learn more about Jesus of Nazareth and about the truth of Christmas.


The Impossible Dream

12-22-2019From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

A number of years ago there was a TV show called Mission Impossible and after that, a few movies based on that idea. Although these shows and movies were meant for entertainment, they try to show that when we are determined we can do almost anything that needs to be done in the name of justice. As we continue our journey to Christmas, which is now just three days away, we are invited to contemplate how what seems impossible and surely improbable from a human point of view has become the source of life, hope, love, and truth in the fullest and ultimate way possible. In today’s first reading Ahaz, the king of Israel, is told by God to look for a sign: “Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!" Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:10-14) Ahaz was comfortable where he was in his life and was not looking for any help from God. But the lack of human response or objection never stops God from reaching out in love to us and for us.


Lectio Mary: The Bible and the Mother of God

12-15-2019Formed Suggestion of the Week

Why is Mary so important to Catholics, and why have so many people been devoted to her over the centuries? What can we learn about her from Sacred Scripture? Find out the answers in this Lectio series on Mary.

Featuring the insightful biblical teaching of Dr. Brant Pitre, Lectio Mary: The Bible and the Mother of God examines what Scripture, the life of Christ, and the early Church fathers reveal about Mary. By closely examining the connections between the Old and New Testaments, Dr. Pitre presents clear and easily understood explanations about the life and identity of Mary, the Mother of God.


God is Forever There

12-15-2019From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

With all the clever abbreviations we use with texting, we save typing and space. Do you have a BFF (best friend forever)? BTW (by the way) will you BRB (be right back)? TBH (to be honest) I find the most powerful way to talk is FTF (face to face). One of the exciting parts of Christmas is giving and receiving gifts. Gifts express love, joy, and gratitude. A few years ago I used the word GIFT as an abbreviation in my homily and said it meant God Is Forever There. Life is a gift from God. Love is a gift from God. Wisdom is a gift from God. Truth is a gift from God. All things that are good are gifts from God. How good it is when things are going well to see that goodness as GIFT or God being forever there for us and with us. How good it is when we have struggles and sorrow to know God is listening to our prayers because He is forever there.


The Gift of God Himself in Jesus

12-08-2019From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Before I began writing this column, I was thinking about some practical things I need to do to get ready for Christmas. There are cards to send, presents to buy, homilies to get ready, and the decorations in the church and on our property. Of course the most important preparation for Christmas is focusing on that pithy statement that sums it up so clearly: Jesus is the reason for the season! As much as we look at our own personal hopes, we are given the gift of Advent to see what our ancestors in faith looked and hoped for in a Savior. All of the first readings on the Sundays of Advent come from the prophet Isaiah. Last Sunday we heard that when the Savior comes He will so enrapture us with His love and truth that we will turn swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Never again would people train for war. Well we know that has not happened. But the hope is still there. The key is to look at the “weapons” we use personally every day to defend ourselves or to strike back: anger, harsh words, threats, vengeful thoughts and gossip. In the Gospel two weeks ago, we saw Jesus hanging on the cross and being mocked and jeered at. In the midst of such evil, He listened to the simple prayer of the “good thief” and said to him, “This day you will be with me in paradise.” In such a simple but unbelievable way Jesus rose above the human weapons of mockery, rejection, and insults to bring peace to a repentant sinner and bring him into heaven. At times the last thing our society fosters is reconciliation and peace. Those who disagree with us or judged to be out of the mainstream by us or public opinion in the media are mocked, shunned, and bad mouthed. There is no peace, only a tense feeling within our hearts that we try to suppress but ultimately cannot. As long as we think we have to win and someone has to lose we miss the point of the coming of the Prince of Peace whose birth we are preparing to celebrate.


St. Philip Neri

12-08-2019Formed Suggestion of the Week

An epic feature film on the famous "Apostle of Rome" and great friend of youth in the 16th century. One of the most popular saints of all time, St. Philip Neri was widely known for his great charity, deep prayer life, and tremendous humor. Hoping to join St. Ignatius of Loyola's new order of Jesuits and be a missionary to India, Providence instead guided Philip to seek out the poor and abandoned youth of Rome to catechize them in the faith and help them find a better life. He became the founder of the religious congregation, the Oratory, that worked with the youth and also labored to re-evangelize a decadent Rome.

This captivating film highlights Neri's great love for youth, his warm sense of humor, contagious joy, deep mystical spirituality, and his amazing gift for miracles. Actor Gigi Proietti gives a moving performance as St. Philip in this beautifully produced film that is directed by Giacomo Campiotti, director of the acclaimed films Bakhita: From Slave to Saint and St. Giuseppe Moscatti.


A Time to Refocus

12-01-2019From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Our national day of Thanksgiving is over and now the big push we hear about through the media is shopping. Black Friday began the big push. But so many retailers were anxious that they began their Black Friday “sales” a week or two ahead of time. Christmas is a wonderful time and we look forward to preparing to celebrating it with family and friends. It is good to give and receive gifts and to send and receive cards and other greetings. The key of course is to recognize why there is so much time, energy, and money being spent: we are getting ready to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ. The real Black Friday was not a day to shop but the day we crucified the one whose birth has now been celebrated for 2,000 years. We can, do, and ultimately must celebrate because Jesus is the gift. He is God who humbled Himself and came to live among us and to bring us into His life, the life He shares with the Father and Holy Spirit, along with His Mother Mary and the throng of angels, saints, and loved ones who are now rejoicing forever in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Advent is a wonderful time to refocus on who Jesus is in our lives. How much of a difference does He make in all we say, think, and choose to do every day? This year all the first readings for the Sundays of Advent are from the prophet Isaiah. This week Isaiah presents the beautiful vision and hope for all humanity: “He shall judge between the nations, and set terms for many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (Isaiah 2:4) In the twenty-first century we have weapons that if unleashed in war can totally destroy our planet. But these weapons can only be used if human beings in positions of leadership choose to do so. Fighting with weapons is the result of injustice, anger, misunderstandings, greed, and a total lack of respect for one another. You and I are not going to push any buttons to set such powerful weapons off, but we are responsible for the violence and pain caused through our personal words, actions, and attitudes. As we pray the Our Father we conclude with these words: “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. The Gospel for that day was from Luke 23:35-43. As Jesus was hanging on the cross the crowds mocked and laughed at Him: The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”


Advent Reflections by Dr. Tim Gray

12-01-2019Formed Suggestion of the Week

This Advent season, walk with Dr. Tim Gray on a journey of renewal to ready your heart for the coming of Christ. Each day of Advent, Dr. Gray will unpack the meaning of this season and its rich traditions, as well as offer practical advice for making this Advent your best yet.