There are so many wonders to see in the world we live in. In nature we have the Grand Canyon, the pristine beauty of Alaska, and Niagara Falls just to name three. The leaves have fallen from the trees, but we have seen the beauty of their colors. Now with the more austere landscape of winter there is still much to see, but it is not with our eyes that we gaze on beauty and wonder. READ MORE
This coming Thursday we will gather with family and friends to celebrate our National Day of Thanksgiving. How good it is to be grateful for all we have as Americans. In spite of our differences, we continue to have the blessing of many freedoms that people in other places in the world can only marvel at. The key is to allow the gratitude we have to well up from our hearts. The basis of true gratitude is humility. Humility enables us to see all that we have and the people we have become are the result of the goodness and sacrifices of so many who have gone before us. The courage of the Pilgrims to cross the Atlantic Ocean seeking a place to live their faith without persecution in the early seventeenth century brought a founding colony to what is now a great nation. We are grateful to the founding fathers of our nation who took the bold step to declare independence from England in 1776.READ MORE
This past Tuesday I was once again privileged to say the opening prayer at the Veterans Day Ceremony at the Veterans Square right here in Smithtown. It was good to see the veterans who were there as well as the young people who were scouts, singers and members of a brass ensemble. The Colors were presented, flags were raised, patriotic songs were sung, and words of gratitude expressed.READ MORE
One of the realities we come to see as we go through life is that there are so many things we have no control over and that we need and have to trust others. We have no choice or control about being born. Life is a pure gift from our parents and from God. We have no choice or control about when and how we are going to die.READ MORE
These past months I have been writing about many things, including a responsibility we have this coming Tuesday to vote as Americans. Last week in the Gospel, Jesus was asked by a Pharisee what law was the greatest out of the more than 600 the Jewish people had at that time. His response was not a law, but the ultimate motive to obey any law, perform any action, or speak any word: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." He concluded His answer by saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Loving God for who He is transforms us into the people of God, the Church. Together every single day we are one of the greatest sources of goodness, love, compassion, truth, and help in the world. What we could never do alone, we join together in Jesus name as His Body and accomplish.READ MORE
There are those people in life who inspire us to do better—to really live our lives for God and others. For many of us, Bishop Paul Walsh was that person. It was never with a raised voice or a pounding fist, just a quietly spoken message of God's intense love for us and how our lives should be lived in response to that. As associate pastor here from 1988 to 1990, and pastor from 1990 to 2003, he had an immeasurable impact on our parish and on countless individual lives.
Bishop Walsh was born on August 17, 1937 in Brooklyn. He had one younger sibling, Mike. In an article written in 2003, he described his early childhood memories as ordinary: walking home from school for lunch, playing punch ball and stick ball in the street, his mother calling him home with her head out the window, a grandfather who would take him rowing in Prospect Park, and an uncle who took him to hockey games. He said his parents set a good example by attending Mass regularly. His mother often took him to Monday night Novena Masses as well.READ MORE
Who do we really trust to speak in our name? One of the prudent things to do as we get older is to name a health care proxy who will speak for us if we become incapacitated and are unable to speak for ourselves. When we ask someone to take that responsibility for us, we must also let them know exactly what we do want if we become critically ill or injured. If we find ourselves in a situation where we need legal help to go to court we hire a lawyer to speak for us. Frequently people ask me, their parish priest, to say a prayer for them or someone they love who is suffering. Whenever we ask a priest or anyone else to pray for us, we are asking them to speak to God for us or in union with them.READ MORE
Most of the time when we get an invitation to a special celebration or event we are asked to RSVP, to respond as to whether or not we are coming. Some invitations we look forward to accepting, some we want to find an excuse not to go, and some we are indifferent about. One invitation that was accepted for most of us that we had no choice about was Baptism. Our parents in their love for us and desire that we become part of God’s life brought us to the Church to be baptized. We reaffirm that commitment to follow Jesus when we are confirmed. Before we are anointed with the Chrism that pours the Holy Spirit into our minds and hearts, we are asked to renew our Baptismal Promises. We “confirm” the commitment our parents made for us when we were infants. In reality we reaffirm our commitment as followers of Jesus every time we come to Mass and recite the creed together and every time we begin praying the Rosary with the Apostles Creed. The more we open our minds and hearts to the goodness of God and the blessing we have, the more grateful we become and the stronger and more vibrant our faith.READ MORE
In the poem "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost there are these words:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence."
At times when we say one thing and do another we are hypocrites. Then there are those times when we say one thing and do another and find great peace. That is what today's Gospel shows us. In this parable Jesus tells us about two sons who were asked by their father to go work in the vineyard on a particular day. The first one says he will not go, but later changes his mind and goes. Obviously he had a change of heart for the better. His willingness to do what initially he did not want to do brought him and his father great peace. It was a life giving moment for each of them. On the other hand, the second son told his father what he wanted to hear but had no intention of doing what his father asked. He said one thing, but did another that turned out to be disappointing to his father and to himself.READ MORE
Less than two weeks ago we had a day of remembrance for those who died in the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001. Misguided, angry people caused a horrible amount of pain and suffering not only for victims, but also for their family and friends. We continue to remember those who bravely walked into the two doomed buildings of the World Trade Center and died with the workers there. As much as human beings were the agents of evil, even more our fellow citizens were sources of goodness, love and concern. The terrorist attacks united us in sorrow and concern. As a nation we continue to struggle against the forces of evil seen in the atrocities in the Middle East and in the violence in our nation. How will there ever be peace? Violence continues to occupy so much of the news reports from the media everyday.READ MORE
Where do we see good triumphing in the face of evil? Where do we see evil prevailing in the face of good? These are two questions that enter our thoughts as we see the chaos, suffering and brutality in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Even our own lives and the lives of those we know have been affected by injustice, human error or human sinfulness. Today’s feast gives us the courage and hope to see where the power of goodness and love are stronger than the forces of sin and evil.READ MORE
One of the more challenging situations we face in life involves confrontation. In today’s Gospel Jesus gives a procedure to follow to bring back those who are sinful or immersed in wrongdoing to the Church. The goal is not punishment or a holier than thou attitude. We do get angry at the hurtful words and actions of others. At times we criticize, talk about, and gossip about them to others. All that does is allow the status quo of anger, tension and negativity to get worse.READ MORE
As human beings, we are the high point of creation. How blessed we are to be created in the very image and likeness of God. We use our human gifts to do wonderful things, but still struggle to find ways to bring peace into our lives and into our world. Today’s gospel recounts a storm the disciples of Jesus faced on the sea. How blessed they were to have Jesus approach them walking on the sea and calming the waters. Storms are part of nature. This past week there was a report of an earthquake in China that killed almost 400 people.READ MORE
The last six months before I was ordained a priest I was assigned to a parish to work and get pastoral, parish experience. The priests there worked very hard and were a good example of ministry and working together for the good of the people. One of the priests told me that in my work as a priest I would be in charge of different programs that needed presentations. In his wisdom he told me that I should not look for others to do what I - working with the other priests of the parish that I would be in - could do. That is exactly what happened.READ MORE