Our Good Shepherd

04-30-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

In order to keep our wits about us and to find strength and courage to live truly good lives is not always easy. There are good days and challenging days. The good days are a joy while the challenging days can bring much fear, anger, worry, and sadness. Last Sunday we listened to the Gospel from Luke 24:13-25 where two of Jesus’ disciples were leaving Jerusalem three days after Jesus had died. Obviously they were filled with disappointment, worry, and sadness. They were wrapped up in their personal confusion and seeking peace. But they were going in the wrong direction. The Crucified Jesus was no longer their shepherd and guide. But He was! The Risen Jesus approached and walked with them and finally revealed Himself to them. At that point they turned around and went back to Jerusalem no longer as the place of defeat and death of their Savior, but the place where He rose from the dead and showed His power over sin and evil, the power we so sorely need in our world and in our personal lives.


Truly Living

04-23-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the things I enjoy is doing crossword puzzles. It is interesting to put words and clues together. As I read the Gospel for this Sunday (Luke 24:13-35) the word LIVE came to mind. In this passage the Risen Christ appeared to two of His disciples who were leaving Jerusalem on the Sunday after Jesus was crucified. They were leaving the scene of a terrible tragedy and disappointment. These two were in a state of confusion as they saw Jesus rejected, crucified, and buried. They had heard that He had risen, but they were skeptical and disoriented. Jesus did not condemn, abandon, or dismiss them but met them where they were - not just physically but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. They wanted to LIVE as we all want to LIVE, with hope, purpose, meaning, security, and love. And Jesus enabled them to come to the light of hope, purpose, meaning, security, and love by His presence to them.


Hand in Hand

04-16-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

Back in the 1970s there was a folk song sung at Masses entitled “Put Your Hand In The Hand Of The Man Who Stilled The Water.” Those lyrics came to mind when I read the Gospel for Mass (John 20:19-31) today as I was preparing my homily for this weekend’s Masses. This passage gives us the account of two post resurrection appearances of Jesus to His apostles. In the first appearance the disciples are behind locked doors as a group, for fear of those who crucified Jesus. The Risen Jesus came and took away their fears with these powerful words: “Peace be with you.” He repeated that greeting a second time and showed them His hands and his side which bore the scourge of His crucifixion. The disciples were overwhelmed and filled with joy. When they told St. Thomas of this appearance he refused to believe. The Gospel for today continues with the account of Jesus’ second appearance to them where He said to St. Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 


04-09-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

Happy Easter! How good it is to be alive, to be loved, and to be a source of love for those entrusted to our care and presence. Every day there are challenges and opportunities to rise beyond our own concerns and needs and be a positive force for others. Life is a gift. To see life as a gift is to “rise” above and beyond feelings of entitlement, ignorance, a desire to be in control, anger, disappointment, and a host of so many other negative feelings. It is not always easy to see the goodness and need for love in others and ourselves. Our society is bursting with reports of the faults and failures of public and not so public people. The almost blasé verse from Ecclesiastes 1:9 comes to mind: “What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!”


Trusting in God's Forgiveness

04-02-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

Some days all is right with the world. The sun is out, there is peace in our homes, and our hearts are full of joy and gratitude. Then there are those days and times when everything seems to come unraveled and fall apart. As we celebrate Palm Sunday we have two Gospels read at Mass, both from St. Matthew. The first Gospel is read at the beginning of Mass just before the palms are blessed and recounts the welcome entrance into Jerusalem Jesus experienced as he entered the city. There was public welcome, joy, and enthusiasm. Yet as we reflect on the Gospel for today’s Mass we have the account of His passion and death from St. Matthew. In the span of five days, joy and welcome were replaced with injustice and rejection. As I made the Stations of the Cross every day during this Lent, each time I could not help but be amazed at how, as things got worse and worse, the love of God in Jesus refused to be extinguished or give up.


Having Life and Having It More Abundantly

03-28-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

Two of the worst feelings we experience as human beings are feeling ignored and feeling rejected. Where does our hope lie when these feelings threaten us and become realities? In the Gospel for today’s Mass (John 11:1-45) we have the account of Jesus raising Lazarus after being in the tomb for four days. Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, had sent word to Jesus that their brother was sick and hoped that He would come and heal him. Instead of dropping everything and going immediately, Jesus stayed on for two more days where He was before going to Bethany, a village just outside Jerusalem. The walking route was about 40 miles. Jesus did not ignore their message or reject their plea. He simply finished what He was doing and then went to them. The disciples warned Him not to go near Jerusalem, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus was not afraid of being rejected. His only concern was to bring the life, love, and presence of God’s love wherever He was. After Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead His opponents were more determined than ever to satisfy their rejection of Him by executing Him and Lazarus as well. In John 12 we see Jesus at the house of Lazarus and his sisters and the joy and gratitude they expressed. But rejection was afoot as we see in John 12:9-10: “The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too.”


Our Inner Thirst

03-12-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

There is an old expression that warns us about going to the well too many times. The fact is we all seek “wells” in our lives, the wells that give us life, love, peace, mercy, and hope. All of us have a vast reservoir of love and hope. How do we release the love and hope that we have? Sometimes we are confused or tired, feeling that we are just drained of energy and just want some time for ourselves. The way to find nourishment and energy is to focus on how good it is to accept God’s love and give of ourselves in love to one another.

In the Gospel for today’s Mass (John 4:5-42) we see Jesus encountering the woman at the well. This passage begins by telling us that “Jesus, tired from His journey, sat down there at the well.” The disciples went off to get some provisions for nourishment. As Jesus sits by the well the Samaritan woman comes to draw water. In her encounter with Jesus we see that she probably came to the well a noon, at time when no one came because of the heat of the day, to draw water. Her life was one of broken relationships and the pain they caused. As their conversation progresses Jesus speaks of the living water He wants to give her. No longer is He looking to rest and get some time for Himself. He is energized and inspired to love because that is who He is and what He came to do. He did not see her as a pest or a distraction, but as someone with the thirst we all have for life, love, peace, mercy, and hope. Jesus reveals that He knows the inner thirst she has and we all have, the thirst for the living water that comes from Him, the living water of life, love, peace, mercy, and hope. Never did Jesus pass up on opportunity to engage and touch those He encountered. His goal was not to win people over but to enrich them with the purest of intentions and the joy He felt when His love took root.


Jesus Comes to Us

03-05-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

Living on Long Island we do not have any literal mountain top experiences. But this past Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday we did have a great mountain top experience, our Parish Retreat given by a team of people from the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. On a mountain we get a view from a height that expands our visual horizon. During our retreat through the speaker, music, and presence of the Blessed Sacrament on our altar and in procession, we were given a view of who we are as Catholic believers in Jesus Christ and members of the Church, the Body of Christ on earth. It is one thing to have information and read about Jesus and the Church we are part of through, with, and in Him, it is another thing to see who He really is in our personal lives and who we are in His personal life.

In the Gospel for the Mass today (Matthew 17:1-9) we have the account of Jesus taking Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain where He is transfigured before them. They see Him in is heavenly body and Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Him. St. Peter exclaims, “Lord, it is good that we are here.” Jesus invited them into a truly intimate experience with Him and revealed who He truly is. How awesome and blessed Peter, James, and John were. We do not see Jesus in His heavenly glory, but we do behold Him and accept His invitation to come into us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus who appeared in His heavenly glory in this encounter with Peter, James, and John appears to us in the very common physical element of bread that becomes His Body when the priest at Mass prays, “This is my Body which will be given up for you. We do not have to go up a mountain to be in His presence, He comes to us so simply and powerfully in the bread of the Eucharist that has become His Body. What encourages us in this Gospel passage and from our experience in our parish retreat is who Jesus is and why He is coming into us.


Living Our Faith, Growing in Our Faith

02-26-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.” Those are the concluding words of the Our Father, a prayer we pray at every Mass, in the Rosary, and in our daily prayers. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Matthew 4:1-11) we have St. Matthew’s account of Jesus being tempted by the devil after 40 days of prayer in the desert. Obviously Jesus did not accept the prompting of the devil to use His miraculous powers to do what would entertain and make Him popular. The inner strength, faith, and love of Jesus enabled Him to not only resist temptation, but, even more, to begin His pubic ministry by healing the sick, preaching the Good News, raising the dead, and showering divine love and wisdom on all who encountered Him and were in His presence.


God's Love for Us

02-19-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

There are many choices we have in our lives. Sometimes we agonize over a decision weighing the pros and cons and at other times we readily jump in with both feet. For past weeks we have been inviting everyone in the parish to our upcoming parish retreat which will take place on next Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday in our church from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM each night. This retreat has been in the planning stage for the past four months. We have formed a committee to put it together along with those who are giving the retreat. The retreat team is coming from the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. I have been very impressed and enthused by the people we are working with from there and look forward meeting the team they are sending to give the retreat.


Loving Others as God Loves Us

02-12-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

To be truly wise is not to be the smartest person in the world. To be truly wise is to know we do not know or understand everything, but we do know where the source of wisdom is. In the second reading at Mass today (1 Corinthians 2:6-10) we have these words of St. Paul: “We speak a wisdom to those who are mature, not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for, if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” God’s wisdom is simple and profound at the same time. As we look to our parish mission, the first evening will open up our understanding of God’s love for each one of us. We all know and say God loves us but do we really understand what that means for ourselves and all people?


Loved By God

02-05-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

The old Baltimore catechism asked, “Why did God make you?” The answer: “God made me to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next.” First and foremost God created the world and created us in His very own image simply because He loves us and wants to share His life and love with us in this world and forever with Him in heaven. One of the thoughts we grapple with is why God loves me personally. We know we are not perfect, have said and done stupid and sinful things, and are not always as attentive and focused at Mass and in prayer as we would like to be and want to be. It is easy to trust we are lovable when we do and say good things. But we must never think we are unlovable to God. As I have written over and over again, the words of St. Paul in Romans 5:8 are perfectly to the point: “While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” When we were estranged from God and not giving Him our time, attention, love ,and gratitude He never gave up loving us. That is why He came Himself in the person of Jesus.