Correcting our Impaired Vision

03-26-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the sad things to see in the news is the number of people who are stopped or arrested for DWI. There is also a lesser charge that is also serious called DWAI or driving while ability impaired. Impaired vision or impaired mental or physical skills not only limit us, but in all too many cases cause serious harm to others as well as to those impaired. In today’s Gospel we have the account from St. John of the cure of the man born blind. His lack of vision was from birth, not through any fault of his own. Ironically the religious leaders who are involved in trying to downplay and discredit Jesus have the ability to see with their eyes, but are blind in their minds and hearts. Like DWI, this is an account of a self and willful acquisition of an obstacle that blinds us not only to the power of God in Jesus, but also to the vision that only Jesus can bring into our minds and hearts.


Time with God is Never Wasted

03-19-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the things we do not like to be accused of is wasting time. Last year is over and we cannot go back and re-live it after reflecting on what we did or said. We can “waste” a lot of time with our technological devices, constantly checking text messages, e-mails, and even surfing the Internet. We can waste time by simply being a couch potato in front of the TV. We can waste time daydreaming or hoping things will change, but not looking at what we can do to make changes for the better.


A Look Back at the March for Life

03-12-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Last week I received an e-mail from William Cassese, the seminarian who was with us for ten weeks this past May, June, and July, recounting his experience with his fellow seminarians at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. William and his fellow seminarians are studying for the priesthood at the Theological College in Catholic University in Washington, D.C. The media does not give this event much coverage at all because of their pro-abortion bias. They consider those who participate in this Pro life march out of step with current American thought and culture. How wrong they are. I invite you to read William’s comments, the comments of an intelligent young man of faith who was part of the March:


Supporting the Last, Least and Lost

03-05-2017From the Pastor's DeskFr. Shibi Pappan

This week's column was written by our associate pastor, Fr. Shibi Pappan.

I will never forget a recent sick call. I thought that it would be like one of the many sick calls we get every week to anoint older people. After being welcomed by the family, I was looking around for the sick person. They introduced me to a thirty year-old man sitting on a couch. First I thought that he was preparing for surgery but the family whispered in my ear that he is counting his days, he had acute cancer that had spread everywhere including the brain. I sat near him, after a momentary silence he asked me “Will you please hear my confession?” After the confession and anointing, I saw a new energy and gratitude in his eyes. I held his hand and asked a question—a question that I never asked before in my life, a question that I would never want to ask again—“Are you ready to go Home?” He smiled and replied, “Yes, I am ready.” Today he is with God.


Opening Our Minds and Hearts During Lent

02-26-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“Ring around the rosy, Pocket full of posies, Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.” This simple nursery rhyme we learned as children speaks to us this coming Wednesday as we begin the season of Lent by having blessed ashes placed on our foreheads. We will receive hundreds of phone calls from people asking when ashes will be distributed (be sure to see the schedule on the front cover of this bulletin). Many people will come. Ashes are a sign of our mortality, sinfulness, and resolve to repent. “We all fall down” is true. As much as attention is given to those who do wrong, Lent is our time to look into our own hearts to see where we have fallen down. The past four Sundays we have been hearing the Gospel from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Some of the verses that are very appropriate for Ash Wednesday and all of Lent are: “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5) It is so easy to criticize the faults of others and gossip about them. The real challenge is to look into our own hearts to see where the “ashes” are and to clean the mess up. Every day we pray in the Our Father, “And lead us not into temptation.” For the next forty days, the challenge is to not give in to the temptation to ignore the “ashes” and settle into our everyday routine with regard to our faith.


Parish Lenten Mission

02-19-2017From the Pastor's DeskFr. Shibi Pappan

(This week’s column was written by our associate pastor, Fr. Shibi.)

My teacher often comments after reading my assignments for St. John’s University, that I am a perfectionist. She was referring to the pains I go through to make an assignment perfect. I thought this was a great compliment until I took the course on personality. Perfectionism is defined as a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable. The word ‘unacceptable’ is key to understanding perfectionism. Perfectionists are afraid of failures because they believe that others will not accept or respect them. We sometimes are reluctant to do things because we are afraid to fail. It even haunts our spiritual life - afraid that God accepts only our perfections, not realizing that sinners and the weakest are those closest to his heart.


Source and Summit of Our Faith

02-12-2017From the Pastor's DeskFr. Sean Magaldi, Associate Pastor

Newness and change often bring about uncertainty and fear. As I lined up outside St. Agnes Cathedral on Tuesday January 31 st , this was the case. It was cold and snowing and I anxiously waited for the procession to begin for the installation of Bishop John Barres as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The anticipation was building as I awaited the bishop's homily. When he began to preach, he spoke several times about the Eucharist and quickly the nervousness turned to joy and excitement. His words about the Blessed Sacrament filled me with such peace and joy because when the Eucharist is at the center of our mission, Jesus is at the center of our mission.


Making a Positive Difference

02-05-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

There are many people who make a difference in our lives. Some make a profound difference and radically affect who we are and what we think. These are the ones who are our family and close friends. Then there are people who encourage and inspire us, enabling us to grow in self-confidence, love, and gratitude. Sadly we encounter people who at times make a negative difference in our lives. Through their words, actions, and gestures they cause us to be angry, upset, disappointed, discouraged, or apathetic. And as much as we look at the difference other people make in our lives, we must also be aware of the difference our presence makes in the lives of others. The best difference we can make is a good, positive, loving difference.


Fake News is Nothing New

01-29-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

In the past year we have seen how the media presents news in ways that can be distorting and biased. Our new president calls it “fake news.” “Fake news” is nothing new. In the Gospel for Mass last Monday (Mark 3:22-30), the religious leaders at the time of Jesus reported “fake news.” They accused Jesus of acting and speaking in the name of the devil. One of the weapons we use to discredit those we do not like is to speak out against them and then try to make our dislike more convincing. That is exactly what those in religious leadership of the time tried to do to Jesus. At weekday Mass the past two weeks, the Gospel for each day has come from St. Mark. These consecutive passages relate how Jesus began His public ministry, called His disciples, and brought God’s healing and mercy into the lives of the people of His time. He was too good to be true and was upsetting the status quo of those who were perfectly comfortable with their perception of God and their religious leadership. They accused Jesus of being a disciple of the devil. In some of the cures Jesus performed, those who first recognized who He was were the evil demons who told Him to leave them alone and go away. When anyone speaks out against Jesus and His way, the work of the evil demons, the work of the devil prospers.


Evil's Destructive Results

01-22-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Like most Catholics my age, when we were growing up there was a far greater emphasis on what mortal sin is and how we had to avoid it to keep from going to hell. To intentionally miss Mass on Sunday was a mortal sin and before receiving Holy Communion again we had to first go to Confession and be absolved from that sin. Over the past 60 years, we seem to have lost our sense, understanding, and awareness of sin and its effects. Now only about 30% of our registered parishioners come to Mass on a regular basis. Mortal sin is by definition a deadly sin that separates us from God and has the potential to make that separation eternal. There are legitimate reasons that can prevent us or side track from coming to Mass: sickness, treacherous weather, or someone in dire need of our presence (Luke 10:25-37, parable of the Good Samaritan). As human beings we are great at rationalizing and making excuses, but in our hearts and consciences we know when we are just refusing to be honest with ourselves.


God's Love: More Than We Can Comprehend

01-15-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Now that most of us have put away our Christmas decorations, we are back in our daily routines. Most of us enjoyed Christmas and hopefully had the time to reflect on what it is that we actually celebrated - God’s gift of Himself to us. There is the saying that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But Jesus came to be far more than a light in the darkness of our winter days, He came to be the reason for our very lives. He came not just because we wanted Him or He was promised and longed for, He came first and foremost because He loves us. How do we respond to that? Most of us who are older remember the basic truth we memorized from our catechisms: God made me to know Him, love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the world to come. That simple statement is far more than a fact, it points to the very core of who we are, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. Jesus is not the decoration or gift put away until next Christmas, He is the gift that inspires, encourages, and enables us to be fully who we are created to be. The key is to let Him so far into our lives that He becomes the center and core of our very being every moment of who we are.


Finding Joy in the Presence of Christ

01-08-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One the comical definitions of insanity or unreasonableness is to do the same thing over and over again, but each time hope for or expect a different result. When something does not work out the way we had planned or hoped we need to readjust our methods. Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, the journey the Magi made following a star to find the Christ child. They saw something different in the sky and felt compelled to make a journey to see who it would bring them to. The wonder of Jesus’ birth was announced by an angel to shepherds who responded to the invitation to see the newborn Christ. The scriptures tell us: When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. (Luke 2:15-20) They were not put off by finding the child Jesus in a stable, but awed by the message from the angel and even more by the very presence of Jesus.


Finding the Peace Jesus Came to Bring

01-01-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Happy New Year! The older I get the more amazed I am at the year we have arrived at. Today is the first day of 2017. When I was younger, I used to think I will be old when the year 2000 comes around and now we are seventeen years beyond that. It is not that we have survived long enough or deserve to be alive at this point in history, because life is a gift and 2017 is the gift of another year of life. We can look back and see countless events and experiences that have brought us to this point. And what enables us to keep the past and present moments in perspective is gratitude and humility. How good it is to recognize how God has blessed us and all the good people in our lives who have inspired, encouraged, and walked with us during our journey through life. First of all, we gratefully acknowledge how good our parents were to give us the gift of life and the gift of themselves in their love for us. You who are parents have the blessing of your children and are a blessing to them. There are so many people who have contributed to the person we are today.