His Ways Are Not Our Ways

09-24-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Recently I watched the movie “Hacksaw Ridge,” the true story of a man named Desmond Doss who enlisted in the army in World War II and refused to take up a rifle. At first, he is seen as a coward and a fool. Then he was categorized as a conscientious objector. His aim was to be a medic in the midst of violent battles with the enemy. Through his faith, courage, love for our servicemen, and determination, he singly saved the lives of many of the men he was with on the battlefield on the island of Okinawa by staying up all night alone on a battlefield full of dead bodies and wounded men, and then lowering those alive to safety and the opportunity for medical treatment. A man first thought to be a coward and a fool became a sign of hope to his fellow soldiers and received the Medal of Honor at the end of the war for his bravery and compassion for the wounded. Desmond Doss saw beyond the need to defeat the enemy to the need for those in peril to be treated for their wounds and given medical attention.


Humble Gratitude

09-17-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

In the past few weeks we have seen the destruction of human life and property through the power of nature. Our hearts go out to those victimized by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Not only do our hearts go out, we responded not just with pity and sympathy, but with monetary and practical donations of material goods. A lot of work needs to be done, but those suffering know they are not alone. We continue to pray for those suffering from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that they will find comfort and relief through our concern, love, assistance, and prayers.

Today’s Gospel presents us with instances of financial and self-inflicted suffering. In this familiar parable from Matthew 18:21-35, we see a man in great debt about to be sold into slavery along with his wife and children and his property also sold to pay off the debt. In desperation he cries out for mercy to his creditor, pleading for more time. The creditor is so good that he goes way beyond extending the time, he forgives the whole debt. What a relief! But as the parable continues we see the relief does not lead to humble gratitude. Instead the forgiven debtor confronts someone who owes him a much smaller amount and demands immediate repayment. When it is not forthcoming he has the one indebted to him imprisoned. Why? His attitude and actions are founded on selfishness. He is so wrapped up in himself that he does not see the forgiveness he has received as a gift nor does he see how powerful it is to be forgiven.


Paying Attention to God

09-10-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Last week the second Beatitude came to mind in a few ways for me. “Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) August 31st would have been the 96th birthday of my father who died nineteen years ago. I think of him and pray for him everyday. He was a good, humble, hard working man who knew who he was and who he wanted to be: a husband and father. I am comforted by his goodness, love, and humility and ask him to pray for me every day. I am also comforted by the fact that one day I will be with him forever in God’s Kingdom. These past two weeks we have seen the mourning of those who are suffering the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the other states. How sad to see the death, destruction, and great efforts needed to recover and rebuild. But how comforting to see the goodness in the hearts of all of us who are reaching out to them. Last weekend we took up a second collection as a practical way to say we care and we want to help. That is a comfort to them and to us. They see our love and concern and we have the privilege of responding with love to those in our country who are in great need at this time.


Keeping our Promises

09-03-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“I wish I did not say that!” Sometimes we see the harm our words have done or the tension they bring between ourselves and others. When we regret something we should not have said in the first place, we put ourselves in the position of having to apologize and find a way to make peace. Then there are those times when we reveal what we think and how we feel about ourselves and others and later we regret putting such trust in those to whom the words were spoken. In last Sunday’s Gospel, we saw Jesus asking the disciples who they perceived Him to be: “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’” (Matthew 16:15-19) Not only does Jesus rejoice that Peter has given the right answer, He goes on to say that Peter will be a crucial and central part of the Church and gives him authority to speak and act in His name. Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s passage. Here we see Jesus disappointed at Peter’s response to further revelation: “From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, ‘God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.’ He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.’” (Matthew 16:21-23) Does Jesus regret what we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel? Peter speaks his mind about Jesus prediction of rejection and death. Things are going well, why fool with success? That is a very human reaction. But from experience, we know that one of the constants in life is change. The joyful reception and welcome Jesus receives from the crowds will turn into rejection, mockery, injustice, and crucifixion. Peter does not want that to happen. That is because he feels very comfortable and optimistic about the status quo. Notice that Jesus does not say to Peter that He can no longer trust him to be the foundation of the Church nor that He can trust him to speak and act in His name.


Our Source of Good News

08-27-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the controversial issues in our country at this time is the wall President Trump said will be built on parts of the border between our nation and Mexico. Walls have been built in the past to protect cities and empires from invasion. How sad that a wall is causing far more than a physical obstacle to those who wish to come to our country illegally. The more difficult part of this issue is the wall it is building among us as a nation. Good will is on both sides of this issue, but distrust, anger, and judgments are permeating our respect for one another and our ability to work together for the good of all.


Keep Holy the Sabbath

08-20-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Some things are easier to understand than others. Those things that are more complicated need our complete attention if we are going to grasp and understand what they are trying to tell us. For example, I find it much easier to operate my computer or iPhone if someone shows me what to do rather than reading instructions by myself. Then there are those things that are very simple but we make complicated by trying to ignore them or taking short cuts.

A few weeks ago at daily Mass we read from the book of Exodus where God gave the Ten Commandments to the Jewish people. He had just freed them from slavery in Egypt and was guiding them through the desert to the Promised Land. On the face of it, the Ten Commandments are very simple and straight forward. What complicates them is our human desire to excuse ourselves, cut corners, or compromise what we know is right. Their meaning is very basic and clear. In the first Commandment God says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods beside me. You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or serve them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:2- 6)


Your Prayers are Needed

08-13-2017From the Pastor's DeskFr. Sean Magaldi

This week's column was written by our associate pastor, Fr. Sean Magaldi.

Msgr. Walden recently asked me to write a bulletin article updating everyone about some of my adventures over the summer. I had the distinct privilege to attend three very important conferences. The first was in the middle of June, which was a youth ministry training conference in Arizona called CYMC. Theresa LoCascio, our youth minister, and I attended to help us with our high school youth ministry. Life Teen ran the conference and it was both informative and spiritually refreshing. When preaching the Gospel, it is very hard to quantify the results. One does not have the metrics to measure conversion and as a result, second-guessing and doubt can often creep in. We can get preoccupied with numbers, but we often forget that Jesus started with twelve and those twelve, with the help of others, spread the message of the Gospel across the world. Being able to pray with Theresa and hundreds of other youth ministers, was rejuvenating because it allowed me to slow down and pray for our youth ministry program in a very special way.


A Love That Never Wavers

08-06-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

What difference do I make through my love, risks, commitments, and sacrifices? It is satisfying when we see how what we do or say makes a difference in the lives of others. Not only are they enriched, we are inspired to keep giving of ourselves to others. We become more fully alive than we could ever be otherwise. On the other hand, it is frustrating when we put our best foot forward and do what needs to be done with love and it seems to make no difference and there is no gratitude. How easy it is mentally to go from wonderful thoughts of love and goodness to angry thoughts of rejection, spite, or revenge. While it is hard to be taken for granted and not appreciated, it is even more life draining to allow such thoughts to fester in our minds. They preoccupy our time and mental energy and leave us sad, if not downright angry.


"I Am Who I Am"

07-30-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

When we look into our hearts, we can see who we really are. At times we do not want to look too deep because we know we are not what we really want to be or who people think we are. The challenge is to come to the point where we can say with confidence, peace, and gratitude: I am who I am. We do not become who we are all by ourselves. Many people play different roles in our lives that form our minds, hearts, and vision of life. We are influenced by our parents, especially as we get older and see the sacrifices they have made for us. Teachers play a very big role in how we learn and what we learn. You are reading this column because we all have one person who has a life-giving role and is a key part of our lives: Jesus Christ. We know many things about Him, but do we know His presence, power, and inspiration personally because we have embraced who He is for us and all people.


Seminarian William Cassese Reflects on His Time at St. Patrick's

07-23-2017From the Pastor's DeskSeminarian William Cassese

For the past ten weeks, Seminarian William Cassese has been helping out in our parish as a part of his seminary training. Today, in place of Fr. Walden’s column, William reflects on his time at St. Patrick’s.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with a heavy heart that I must say farewell to St. Patrick’s again. I can’t believe ten weeks have already passed! This year’s pastoral summer seems to have gone much faster than last year’s. However, I have learned a lot over these past ten weeks, and I have come to an even greater appreciation of the community that we have here at St. Patrick’s. So, as I did at the end of my internship last year, please allow me to share some little reflections of my time here over these past ten weeks.


Our Hope is in Our Faith in God

07-16-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

The more I reflect on the waning numbers of people who attend Mass on any regular basis, the more I see the “problem” is not disgust or rejection of the Church, its leaders, its members, and its teachings, but a lack of any regular contact with God. Those who are not in our minds or inner presence are not part of our lives. That does not mean we do not like or do not want to be bothered with those we do not know, but that we do not see how they could improve our lives and give us more hope and meaning. We do not see how blessed their presence would be to us. That is exactly what happens when we do not see the need or find the time for prayer and weekly Mass. We keep ourselves in the dark about the goodness and love of God in our lives and in our world. Clearly, the world without God is having a picnic. There is the fear of terrorism all over the world and concern about protecting ourselves from it in our own nation. There is the continued support and practice of taking the lives of children in the womb through abortion. There is a world of disgust and perversion with pornography on the Internet. There is the constant, daily fighting among our politicians, our elected “servants” who seem to use their time, energy, and talents to do nothing more than find fault with each other instead of serving us. Where is our hope?


Reflecting on the Luminous Mysteries

07-09-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the blessings we have in our lives is people who share our journey through life. In my forty-six years as a parish priest, I have lived with many different priests who have enriched my life in the five parishes where I have been assigned. We have not only lived together but worked and prayed together. I have gone from being the “new kid” on the block to being one of the elder priests. I have lived with priests from many different countries and been enlightened by their experiences and the Church in their countries. But what strengthens our bond as brothers in the priesthood is our gathering to pray together. Each weekday, we gather a half hour before supper to pray evening prayer and the rosary together. Prayer is the food that nourishes us to live who we are as priests and to grow in our brotherhood together.


Our Gift of Freedom

07-02-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

This Tuesday we will celebrate the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the document composed by the founding fathers of our nation that led to the Revolutionary War against England and the establishment of our country. We benefit from the courage and belief in justice and truth of so many who have gone before us. Their actions are the foundation of who we are as a nation. Throughout our national history, countless people have died defending our freedom and truths. One of the thoughts that help us all keep our freedom in perspective and how it must be based on truth comes from our former President Ronald Reagan: “History comes and history goes, but principles endure, and ensure future generations will defend liberty not as a gift from government but as a blessing from our Creator.” To understand and use the freedom we have as individuals and as a nation, we need to understand who we are as human beings. In the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, we read these powerful and enlightening words: Then God said: “Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.” God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them male and female he created them. God blessed them and God said to them: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31)