Be who you are, because if you are not who you are, you are who you are not. This pithy saying comes from a chapter in the book Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. We are all unique and blessed with many God-given talents. But sometimes we compare ourselves to other people and start to feel inferior or less than we could or should be. Sometimes we can think we are better than others because of what we have done or think we can do. One of the prevailing clouds hanging over us in our society is that we can be either winners or losers. Feeling inferior makes us feel like losers. Our differences don’t make us more or less in comparison to others, but complementary. Because we are unique, we can enrich one another simply by who we are.
Our common talent, desire, and innate drive is the ability to love and be loved. We love infants and children and sacrifice everything for them not because they can pay us back, but because our love for them makes us more fully alive. Our true motive is not to feel good about ourselves, but to make the best possible difference we can for those entrusted to our care. I have a picture of myself when I was a small child being carried on the back of my father. When he was at the end of his life and on hospice care, I had the joy of loving him back in such simple ways as cutting his toe nails and helping him get dressed. These common tasks were not a burden but a joy as I was a joy to him when he carried me as a little boy.READ MORE
This week, on Wednesday, July 31st, we will celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This modern and very human take on the story of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, often called "The Saint of Second Chances," is an incisive and thrilling look at the life of the real man behind the legend. In his lifelong quest to become the heroic knight of his fantasies, Ignatius stares death in the face again and again, having his leg shattered by a cannonball in battle, driven to near suicide by his inner demons, finding himself imprisoned, accused of being an illuminati, and finally finding his life in the hands of the Inquisition. Through it all, he would come to see the hand of God working in his life, shaping the self-obsessed sinner into the loyal and passionate soldier-saint.
O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water. So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.
For your love is better than life, my lips will speak your praise. So I will bless you all my life, in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy.
On my bed I remember you. On you I muse through the night for you have been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice. My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.READ MORE
Interested in Bible study? Take some time this summer for a in depth look at the gospel of Mark. Dr. Tim Gray hosts this powerful fourteen-part series to discover the Gospel of Mark like never before. Immerse yourself in this action-packed Gospel that offers Saint Peter’s account of Christ’s life and teaching. Combining the insights of Dr. Tim Gray with the masterful artistry of the Augustine Institute, this Lectio series uses the Church’s rich tradition of Lectio Divina to help you better understand and better pray with the Gospel of Mark.
The day before the Fourth of July, two of my nieces came to visit my brother in Greenport with their husbands. They are from Illinois. One of them is the mother of my grandniece, Paige, who was born on January 19, 2018. Actually she was not born naturally, but was taken from her mother’s womb at 24 weeks because she was in danger of dying from a lack of nourishment in the womb. Last year I published a picture of her when she was born at fourteen ounces and ten-inches long. In one of those pictures, her parents’ wedding rings were placed over her foot and went above her knee. She spent the first 280 days of her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in a hospital in Illinois. Every day her parents were with her. Her mom and dad have grown in knowledge parents don’t usually have, but would embrace for the sake of their children. Because she does not eat too well yet, her parents have to feed her every four hours through a port in her stomach. I held her for more than an hour was amazed at how she has grown and is so full of life. She is so active, perceptive, and happy. I held what is truly a miracle and an answer to countless prayers on my lap . Every day she continues to develop and grow. Paige’s birth is a powerful example of what a gift life is. She has brought out so much love from her parents, relatives, and the medical people who have cared for her.READ MORE
Diversity is one of the gifts we have as human beings to expand our understanding of who we are and how we can live together. The key is to be open to those who see things or understand things differently than we do. Diversity turns into divisiveness when we see other points of view as wrong. Obviously some things are wrong, sinful, and evil, but the challenge comes when two good but different points of view are both valid and good. One of the most prominent and powerful experiences and examples of positive diversity is the union of husband and wife in the Sacrament of Marriage. God in His wisdom created us in His image and both men and women reveal different aspects of God. But most of all they help us to marvel at the unbelievable power of God’s love. Our God is not only the God of creation but the God who invites us into the very intimacy of His life. We are all baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He wants us to be fully a part of who He is and wants us to know He wants to be a part of who we are.READ MORE
This coming Thursday we will once again celebrate an act that took place on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence. A group of concerned people organized and wrote this document. They felt that the American colony was being unjustly taxed and ruled by a monarchy on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Since that time we have seen the fruits of being freed from an outside power and we have grown and prospered as a nation. We are blessed with freedoms and privileges that we so easily take for granted, but are recognized by so many who seek to come to our nation. Freedom is a gift and even more a responsibility. The abuse of freedom causes pain, suffering, and leads to division among us. Having freedom does not mean that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it. We need to be mindful of our actions and how they affect ourselves, others, and our nation as well.READ MORE
This is the first major feature length drama on the life of St. Anthony of Padua, the beloved miracle worker and one of the most popular saints in Christian history. Made in Italy with top-notch acting talent, and superb cinematography, this is an outstanding film on the amazing life of St. Anthony. It presents Anthony as a dynamic and appealing person who sacrificed wealth, popularity, and family for the Kingdom of God.
Born into a Portugese noble family in 1195, Anthony defied his father's wishes that he become a knight and, instead, followed the call of God to become a monk, eventually joining the Franciscans as a follower of St. Francis of Assisi. Anthony became renowned for his powerful preaching and his miracles that won countless souls to Christ. The film follows his travels through Italy, his mission to Morocco, and his meeting with St. Francis. It beautifully portrays the power of his preaching, the holiness of his life, his love for the poor and oppressed, and the wonders of his miracles. Actor Daniele Liotti gives a truly memorable inspiring and performance as St. Anthony.
This coming Wednesday, June 26th, Fr. Sean will leave for his new assignment as Vocation Director of our diocese and Fr. Thomas Acheampong will take his place. For the first time in my 48 years of priesthood I along with Fr. Fred will be in the minority in the rectory as native born Americans. Fr. Thomas is from Ghana, Fr. Abraham is from India, and Fr. Corneille who is one of the chaplains at St. Catherine’s Hospital, is from the Belgian Congo. When the list of available associates was sent to me a few months ago, there was not one American born priest on it. With more and more Catholics leaving the Church and only about 30% coming to Sunday Mass on a regular basis, it should be no surprise young men are not hearing a call to serve God’s people as priests. The current crisis in the Church over the scandal of abuse is another negative and discouraging factor. The American Catholic Church which used to send missionaries all over the world is now the beneficiary of vocations from other countries. God takes care of us in ways that surprise us.READ MORE
If you are looking for a good piece of fiction to start off your summer reading, “Fr. Elijah: An Apocalypse” is a good find. Author Michael O'Brien presents a thrilling apocalyptic novel about the condition of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of time. It explores the state of the modern world and the strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary religious scene by taking its central character, Father Elijah Schäfer, a Carmelite priest, on a secret mission for the Vatican, which embroils him in a series of crises and subterfuges affecting the ultimate destiny of the Church.
Father Elijah is a convert from Judaism, a survivor of the Holocaust, a man once powerful in Israel. For twenty years he has been "buried in the dark night of Carmel" on the mountain of the prophet Elijah. The Pope and the Cardinal Secretary of State call him out of obscurity and give him a task of the highest sensitivity: to penetrate into the inner circles of a man whom they believe may be the Antichrist. Their purpose: to call the Man of Sin to repentance, and thus to postpone the great tribulation long enough to preach the Gospel to the whole world. In this richly textured tale, Father Elijah crosses Europe and the Middle East, moves through the echelons of world power, meets saints and sinners, presidents, judges, mystics, embattled Catholic journalists, faithful priests, and a conspiracy of traitors within the very House of God. This is an apocalypse in the old literary sense, but one that was written in the light of Christian revelation.
Last month, we celebrated Memorial Day and remembered in a special way those who gave their lives in defense of our nation. They believed in the American dream and made the ultimate sacrifice. That attitude goes back to the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 and the ensuing Revolutionary War. But at this point in time, we are seeing reinterpretations and misinterpretations of the founding principles of our nation. This subtle but nefarious “revolution” is dividing us as a nation and at the same time pulling us further and further away from our most cherished and basic moral and God-centered principles. Recently I have read an essay by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI entitled “The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse” and commentaries on it. I also received an advanced copy of a book by Bishop Robert Barron entitled “Letter to a Suffering Church” which candidly and truthfully looks at the sexual abuse against minors by priests and offers a path for healing and hope. Both Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV and Bishop Barron seek to open our minds and hearts to how these evils have happened, where we are currently in secular and Church history, and where our true hope lies.READ MORE
You may know Matt Maher’s music, but do you know his story? An internationally acclaimed Christian singer, song-writer, and eight-time Grammy Award nominee, Maher shares the amazing story of his spiritual journey in this audio talk. He emphasizes the importance of forming relationships with others in order to be effective witnesses of the Gospel and help bring about the unity desired by Christ.
As much as we live in the present moment, we also have hopes and expectations for the future. We work toward certain events or goals and look for promises we make and others make to us to be fulfilled. Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the promised Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus after His Resurrection and Ascension. The first reading today from Acts 2:1-11 gives us the vivid account of that promise of Jesus to His followers coming to pass. This past Monday the Gospel reading at Mass was from John 16:29-33, part of the Last Supper account in John's Gospel (Chapters 13-17). The apostles were with Jesus during His public ministry where He preached about the Kingdom of God, performed many miracles of healing, multiplied the loaves and fish, and shared His life and faith with them. Then at the Last Supper He rose from the table and washed their feet as we read, "So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, 'Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me "teacher" and "master," and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.'" (John 13:12-15)READ MORE
Grieving with Great Hope is a grief support program and a healing ministry developed by John and Sandy O’Shaughnessy; they are the co-founders of Good Mourning Ministry, a Catholic Bereavement Apostolate. John is a Certified Grief Counselor and author of five books. Sandy is a Director of Religious Education with a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry (Bereavement Emphasis). They are grief educators, but in this series, you will learn they have experienced profound grief themselves.
The Book of Revelation full of vivid and sometimes frightening imagery, but what does it all mean? Dr. Michael Barber, host for Reasons for Faith Live on EWTN and Professor of Theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute, takes a detailed look at Revelation. Based on his book with the same title, Dr. Barber shows Revelation’s ties to the Old Testament and to the Mass. Listen and discover the surprising truth.
This past Saturday, Fr. Abraham and I, as well as several families from the school, went to Citi Field for a Met Game. This was Fr. Abraham's first baseball game. One of the father's from the school decided to "indoctrinate" Fr. Abraham and gave him a Yankee hat to wear. I felt helpless at that moment, but as a life-long Met fan, who wasn't alive the last time they won the World Series, I really could not argue in favor of being a Met fan as opposed to being a Yankee fan.
Overall the game was an exciting one. The lead changed a handful of times, but the Mets finally pulled it off after 13 innings. As much as the Mets and Jets drive me crazy and tear out my heart, I love sports. One of the beauties of sports is how it brings people together. People from different walks of life, different ages, different political viewpoints, all can come together to root for the same team. It is something that can bring us together. Faith is also something that brings us together.READ MORE