"What Will Separate Us From The Love Of Christ?"

This coming Sunday, the second reading taken from Paul's letter to the Romans, asks this question. The short answer is NOTHING!

Looking at the lives of the saints indicates that we cannot be stagnate in our life of grace. Passivity cannot rule our lives. The disciples came to the Lord when the multitude was there listening to Him and they ask how Jesus intended to satisfy their hunger. Jesus simply says that they should feed the throng themselves. Taken off guard, the disciples then scrounge for what little they have, and once Jesus blesses the bread and fish the mass is not only satisfied, but full.

The Father wishes us to be completely full -- not just physically, but spiritually. Change is an inevitable part of every life. The disciples wanted desperately to be followers and Jesus demanded them to be leaders. Of course, He gave the people their fill, but it was the disciples that had to gather the materials needed to make it happen.

Each day we are called to gather necessary ingredients for His Kingdom. We are called to lead, confident that the love of Christ is not separated from us. Not today, not ever! Christ's love for us does not end.


First Week Through....Thank the Lord!

Well, I made it through the moving and the first week. The Opening Mass of the Church of All Saints was full and was met with tears, laughter and applause. The lighting of the new Easter Candle and the procession into the church with the patron saint statues was both inspiring and breath-taking. I am fortunate to be the pastor of such a faith-filled community.

The move is not without its challenges, but with the prayers of all who read these words the planted mustard seed will grow into a tall living bush to welcome all who nest in the pews. Thank you and please continue to pray for our community and be assured of mine for you. May we strive to BECOME SAINTS TOGETHER.


In Support Of Our Priests

Taken from the Pottsville Republican Herald 7/3/08

To the Editor:
The priests of our diocese who are affected by the recent announcement of parish closings have an enormous task ahead of them. As they work through the many pastoral and administrative tasks associated with closing a parish and moving on to a new one, these same priests continue to minister to their flocks and avail themselves to serve our needs. The parish closings seem to uncovered much of human nature that is uncomplimentary to those who view themselves as Christian, yet alone Catholic.

The reaction of some is like a living tabloid full of rumor, mistruths and supposition. The members of our clergy are good and decent men who are being asked to carry out an extraordinary task while, at the same time, expected to bring us together in faith during this difficult time. I think they deserve better treatment than they are getting from those who have chosen an opposing side.

Has ethnicity or a particular church building taken precedence over the fact that we are supposed to be one body in Christ? In the midst of the sadness, anger and turmoil surrounding the parish closings, our priests need to know they do not have to go it alone. They need our kindness and compassion, they deserve our respect and they should have our support.

I, for one, am going to do whatever I can to let them know they are appreciated and loved for who they are.

J. D.
As one who is in such a position, "Thanks, J.D."


America Is Great Because...

The Fourth of July is more than just a government holiday meant to promote love for country. It is certainly that, but it’s not just Americans who have cause to celebrate on July 4.

The date commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which, with the Constitution that was built upon it, didn’t just create a new political order in America: They inspired a worldwide movement of liberty and human rights.

On his recent visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI gave a kind of “catechesis on America” and explained some of the reasons why he considers America great.

America is great because it connects freedom with faith.

Often times we think of America’s freedom as if it were primarily an economic freedom or even a freedom from morality. But at the White House on April 16, Pope Benedict reminded us that American freedom has always been tied to morality and religion.

Think of it this way: A gathering of juvenile delinquents has to be watched carefully. If they are gathering near your house, you know you need to guard your things and lock your doors. But a gathering of nuns can be given total freedom. We trust that they won’t get out of hand or take our things, so we allow them to do whatever they want.

The same dynamic has always been true of America, said the Pope. “From the dawn of the republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator,” he said. “The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the ‘self-evident truth’ that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God.”
He linked freedom and virtue.

“Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility,” he said. “The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate.”

He quoted two men who linked freedom and truth. First, Pope John Paul II, who said: “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation.” Second, George Washington. “President Washington expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent ‘indispensable supports’ of political prosperity.”

He summed up: “Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation.”

America is great because it has welcomed immigrants.

Later that day, he spoke again about America’s greatness to U.S. bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. This time it wasn’t the nation’s freedom but its immigration that he praised.

Pope Benedict noted that the willingness of America to welcome immigrants allowed Catholicism to take root here. And the willingness of the Church to work with the faithful from around the world helped build the Church’s faith, hope and charity.

First, he pointed out, the immigrant Church increased Americans’ sensitivity to the needs of the poor and, therefore, their charity.

“Brother bishops, I want to encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home. This, indeed, is what your fellow countrymen have done for generations,” he said, and quoted the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. “From the beginning, they have opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ These are the people whom America has made her own.”
He spoke about how this care for the poor showed itself in recent times of trial, citing the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001, Hurricane Katrina and international aid.
Immigration has also increased the country’s faith, said the Holy Father.

“Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a worshipping community,” he told the bishops. “They have confidence in God, and they do not hesitate to bring moral arguments rooted in biblical faith into their public discourse. Respect for freedom of religion is deeply ingrained in the American consciousness — a fact which has contributed to this country’s attraction for generations of immigrants, seeking a home where they can worship freely in accordance with their beliefs.”

The next day, at the Nationals Stadium Mass, the Holy Father said America’s welcoming of immigrants is also responsible for the prevalence in America of the virtue of hope.
“Americans have always been a people of hope: Your ancestors came to this country with the expectation of finding new freedom and opportunity, while the vastness of the unexplored wilderness inspired in them the hope of being able to start completely anew, building a new nation on new foundations,” he said, noting that injustices left American Indians and slaves out of that hope.

“Yet hope, hope for the future, is very much a part of the American character,” he said. “And the Christian virtue of hope – the hope poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, the hope which supernaturally purifies and corrects our aspirations by focusing them on the Lord and his saving plan — that hope has also marked, and continues to mark, the life of the Catholic community in this country.”

America is great because it has applied its entrepreneurial mindset to the Church’s life.

Before he became Pope Benedict, Cardinal Ratzinger had said in the 2002 interview book God and the World that “it is particularly in the American sphere that people are taking up Catholicism as a whole and trying to relate it anew to the modern world.”

He echoed those words in his April 21 homily at Yankee Stadium:
“We think of the strong faith which built up the network of churches, educational, healthcare and social institutions which have long been the hallmark of the Church in this land. We think also of those countless fathers and mothers who passed on the faith to their children, the steady ministry of the many priests who devoted their lives to the care of souls, and the incalculable contribution made by so many men and women religious, who not only taught generations of children how to read and write, but also inspired in them a lifelong desire to know God, to love him and to serve him.”

Finally, in this election year, he pointed out that Catholics can play a key policy role in a democracy like America’s.

“In this land of religious liberty, Catholics found freedom not only to practice their faith but also to participate fully in civic life, bringing their deepest moral convictions to the public square and cooperating with their neighbors in shaping a vibrant, democratic society,” he said. “Today’s celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations.” Amen.
from the Editors of the National Catholic Reporter.