Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pentecost Sunday (2015-05-24)

[__01___]      We believe that the Holy Spirit gives us a home, a place, a reunion with God.

When we strive to be patient, to be honest, to be courageous, to be compassionate, we make a house a reunion with God.
When we confess our sins, admit our faults in the confessional to a priest.

This allows the Holy Spirit to reignite, to light the fire within us.

And, we remember that the Holy Spirit is always entering the room, filling the space in which we are right now and calling us to open the door so that this gift can be shared with others.

[__02___]     On this PENTECOST SUNDAY, what we read in the Acts of the Apostles is the earth-quaking and wind-blowing presence of the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit appeared to the disciples in a particular place and time, in the room where they had gathered for the Last Supper.

Does a spirit – or spiritual presence – exist in a place after the event has taken place?

I think we would say YES, because we associate certain places with significant and life-changing events in our lives.

Would we not recall certain emotions, simply by returning to certain places? For example, if we were to return to …

·       SCHOOL, CLASSROOM, CAMPUS where we studied

·       HOME or APARTMENT where lived or visited someone

Moses in the Book of Exodus, when he encountered the Lord in the burning bush was told that the place where he was standing was holy ground.

Father Ronald Knox, in a sermon about Pentecost observes that there are places that will remind us of our history:

In a mid-twentieth century sermon about sacred places and about the sacred place of the upper room at Pentecost, Father Ronald Knox writes:

The material surroundings [the environment] of the places in which we have [experienced anything significant] possess the power of carrying us back into the past, of impressing on our minds an echo, as it were, of the feelings we experienced long ago.” (Ronald Knox, Pastoral and Occasional Sermons, Book VIII. Feasts & Seasons / “Pentecost” p. 471)

[__03___]     The Good News of Pentecost is that the Holy Spirit filled the entire house in which they were. (Acts 2:2)

However, it is also true that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were not confined to this house or place or one moment in time.

Just our sacramental baptism, or matrimony, or confirmation, may remind us of a particular church or altar …and of being filled with emotion and energy …. And this grace filled us and filled the room… this grace was not confined to this moment.

We are called to share what we have been given.

For this reason, the disciples were called, later, to leave the room to go to their families, to their friends, to their neighborhoods, to their schools, with the Good News of the resurrection.

Yes, the room was sacred, made holy …but the fire of the Holy Spirit was not confined to that room or space.

[__07___]     In this way, the Holy Spirit filled up a place, a room, at Pentecost so that the early disciples would not and could not remain locked away.

They could not remain locked away in secret.

The Good News of Pentecost is also about the abundance of God’s love for you and for me.

This is possible when we do as the early disciples did, when we bring our fears and anxieties to our prayer, when we gather together as one body,
one spirit, one faith, one Church, one room and we go forward in faith, hope and charity.


Easter 7th Sunday / First Communion (2015-05-17)

[__01___]     Memory and memories are valuable to you and to me.

Isn’t a joy to be remembered by someone whom we love, a joy to remember?

This month – on Monday May 25 – we observe in the United States a day set aside for memories, Memorial Day, a day on which we recall and pray for those who have died in battle, those who have died in the military, those who served in the military and pray for those who continue to serve.

[__02___]       Memorial Day exists – and other memorials – because we know that our lives have been changed by the sacrifices of others.

That is, we not only intellectually remember their sacrifices as though we are memorizing a statistic or fact, but also receiving, possessing, and giving thanks for what others have done.

Memory is valuable.

[__03___]     Memory is also valuable because good memory is often the reason for high test scores, good grades … and possibly a higher batting average or shooting percentage.

In many competitive endeavors, the players – or students – are remembering what has happened before and acting accordingly.

Boys and girls, don’t we rely on our MEMORIES, on our ability to recall, whenever we are in school, whenever the teacher calls on us, or when we take a test or quiz.

And, at such a time, we may even pray (or sing) … “JESUS, REMEMBER ME…”

We pray that God will help us to remember, to give us direction, to give us peace/tranquility – in TESTS of all kinds in our lives – including the help we need to complete our work, our studies.

Knowledge is not something we simply catch as though it is a virus or … line drive to center field ..and then throw back.

Isn’t this also true about Jesus himself? Jesus did not simply speak the Word of God … Jesus is the Word of God. In the Gospel of John, read … “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1-2)

So, to know something, we remember it because it is a part of us.

We have it, we own it, we receive it.

[__04___]      St. Paul writes to the Colossians,

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2)

To the Philippians, Paul writes:

“whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

So, we are always being reminded to think about, to remember, what is good in our lives.

And, boys and girls, a gift that we can give to others – and to our parents – is our MEMORY, to

·       Follow instructions without being reminded. That is, we don’t just remember …we know.

·       And… to use our memory our mind to help others remember …this means helping our family … it means listening and telling stories …and it also means – in a special way – honoring and caring for our parents and grandparents when they are older … you – years from now – will help them to remember.

Doing this, you may not always be noticed ..but  you will bring Good News …. And hope to others.  By helping another person to remember, to speak and to listen to them, you might be similar to Jesus – on the road to Emmaus…who was not noticed until he had vanished from their sight.

[__05___]       In Holy Communion and Holy Eucharist, Jesus says, “Do this in memory of me.”

In a way, our Savior is both
Questioning and inviting …

·       The question is … remember me?
 ·       The invitation is .. REMEMBER ME!

For, I – the Lord says – remember you, remember you before you were born.

Jesus loves us so much that he is willing to die for us.

This is the way a father/mother loves his or her child.

Such a parent would know instantly, instant real time recall and also give up life for the child.

Love equals memory.

St. Paul in 1st Corinthians writes that ..   love hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things  … love never fails”  (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)

And, love never fails because love / charity has excellent long and short term memory.

And, could we not also say that in the memory capacity and hard drive of one who lives, NOTHING is stored on the flash drive …or on a backup hard drive… or on a tape…. but everything is already IN MEMORY, everything is in the present.

[__06___]     I bring this up because in Holy Communion we recall a moment in Jerusalem, of many years ago, a moment between Jesus and his disciples.

It is a memory of the gift of His Body and Blood at a particular time, given by Jesus to disciples who were anxious about his departure, his leaving.

Our Savior did not simply want them to remember him, he wanted them to RECEIVE him, to know him, to take and eat his body and blood, to have him with them always.

[__07__]     So, the Eucharist we receive today, that our young people receive for the first time is the same received by the apostles at the Last Supper.

Did the Apostles, perhaps, have an incomplete understanding or faulty memories of everything that was happening?

Yes, they did.

So, their First Holy Communion and our Sunday Holy Communion may be just one step on a longer journey.

But, it is not an ordinary step.

Receiving Communion is not only a step on level ground…but also step upwards toward our summit.

And, a step deeper, downward toward our source.

Upward toward the summit of our lives, the Eucharist helps to attain a higher place, to rise above some our sorrows and difficulties.

Even to rise above our immediate joys and pleasures, so that we can  give thanks to God for all that we have and ask his help for what we might need.

The Eucharist is also our source, our depth, inviting us to seek a quiet place to seek quiet places where we can hear God’s voice speak to us, where we can know that he is the source of our live, that he is the one who always remembers us.   [_fin_]     

Sunday, May 10, 2015


6th Sunday of Easter  / 10 May 2015

[__01___]     In the Gospel news about the Lord’s Easter Resurrection, and the news that he has continued to be present, has continued to live, his disciples and we are asked to:

·       BELIEVE – with heart and mind, to believe, to know and to understand this message that Jesus, once crucified and died has now been raised from the dead

·       And, having received and believed this message, the disciples were asked to PARTICIPATE and PRACTICE their faith.


Isn’t it true that we can pretend – at times – that we could lack authenticity/honesty if we were to practice or participate in something with out assent or belief or understanding?

On the other hand, we could also profess our belief – and talk the talk …without the “walk” …and we lack the motivation to practice what we believe.

In the letter of Saint James, we read  a caution about what could happen to the person without the authentic connection between faith and action:

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.  He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like.  But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.”  (James 1:22-25)

[__03___]     In our readings from the Acts of the Apostles, from the first letter of John and from the Gospel Book of John, we are reminded about the connection between faith and practice.

In the first letter of John, chapter 4, we read about [ belief / faith ]

àlove is of God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 15, regarding [faith / practice ]

You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves because a slave does not know what is master is doing. I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

[__04___]     Jesus is reminding us that FAITH or BELIEF is a necessary step toward friendship, toward relationship with another person, whether in my family, work, school.

Then, after we have FAITH in another person, there can be love, charity, friendship.

[__05___]       We believe that FAITH precedes ACTION and RELATIONSHIPS …

For example, in the Beatitude verse from the Sermon on the Mount, we read “Blessed are the peacemakers fro they will be called children of God” (Matthew, Ch. 5)

Then, we would also be called to love one other, to seek peace and reconciliation, and to make even our disagreements to be opportunities of love, compassion, and positive correction/movement.

If we believe in the Beatitude verse saying ..”Blessed are the poor in spirit …” (Matthew, ch. 5) then we would try not to count in numerical terms all that we have given in the denomination of our DOLLARS, or EUROS …or even the denomination of our TIME.

If so, we would simply be counting the cost so as to keep ourselves rich numerically…meanwhile we would not be rich or wealthy in what matters to God.

[__06___]    When we believe in these verses, we are also called to practice them and thus to carry out God’s commands joyfully.  

[__07_-MOTHER’S DAY__]    

This Sunday, we also recall and pray for our mothers and grandmothers, living and deceased, and also to remember that our connection to our mothers is based not only in doing what they told us but also in believing what they told us.

[__07.01___]      At times, in our lives, we may pretend or lack authenticity if we do not believe in the actions we are carrying out …or we do not believe in the effectiveness of our own efforts.

For example, we may wonder if ..

·       Studying or practicing harder will do any good…if the subject matter is very difficult.

·       Trying to be honest will do any good …. If no one is going to notice or care…or if my honesty is going to be mocked or rejected.

·       We may wonder or fear that due to some fault in ourselves …or due to some unchangeable aspect of our own person – we may be rejected.

In all of these things, we can also be a harsh jury or prosecutor against ourselves.

In such cases, we may find it hard to believe and to act.

On Mother’s Day, we give thanks for the ways in which our mothers and grandmothers – all those who helped us as a mother would.

We give thanks for their support and recognition of God’s image in you and in me …and that by living he commandments, they not only believed in God but also believed in us, their children and in our goodness and our ability to practice and to act.    [__fin___]    

We Are Living Stones - Capital Campaign (2015-05-03)

In this Easter Season and Easter Octave, we often express our thanks with Psalm 118 – “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

And, I thank you – our parishioners, the People of God of Our Lady of Lourdes for your presence – and support – for years and decades – that with  God’s help have helped to make this day, to complete our joy.

[__Section_01__] This is the day the Lord has made.

In our 2014 centennial – on November 9 – we rejoiced in the establishment and the current existence of our spiritual home.  We rejoiced that we were established – inspired by the Holy Spirit – as we read in our mission statement.

And we rejoice that this mission continues today.

I am speaking this Sunday on the subject of our “We Are Living Stones” capital campaign which is also featured in our bulletin this Sunday and in the pledge envelopes which are in our pews.

This campaign – the Living Stones campaign – is meant to assist us in the continuity of our mission, and we might recall and associate this mission with many who have given and gone before us.

We thank and remember always our priests and clergy – especially Monsignor Joe Petrillo and Deacon Ernest Abad – for their leadership and contributions to build up our parish. Certainly, all of us will associate the ministry, the Mass, the service at the altar with their salutary witness and example, and the witness of many priests and deacons of Lourdes.

When we envision the church, we associate certain places and objects with people whom we honor – and we have honored them by our gifts to build up the church in many ways including – for example, vestments, the Grotto, the paver-stones at the Grotto, the Daily Mass chapel, entrance ways, doorways.   Many friends and members of our family who have gone before us have contributed by their dedicated labor and generous monetary gifts.

There are many contributors who built Our Lady of Lourdes starting in 1914 … by their gifts and by their own 2 hands….and many are still doing so, this year and this week.

            With our magnificent church edifice, of 1964, many have given us a beginning, a very healthy start in life.  There are many contributors who built this church of Our Lady of Lourdes. I invite you to be one of the many investors who continue to build it.

            [__Section_02__]   In this campaign, we are endeavoring to raise money for our parish and for ministries overseen directly by the archdiocese.

 Gifts to this campaign are shared between the parish and archdiocese. This endeavor would enable LOCAL capital improvement at Lourdes while supporting the regular Works of Mercy Appeal of the archdiocese (e.g., Catholic schools, tuition assistance for Catholic school students, charitable outreach to the poor and other ministries). 
While the “Works of Mercy” appeal and similar archdiocesan appeals come around every year, this LIVING STONES campaign is a special endeavor to raise funds for both archdiocesan ministries and for Lourdes. The campaign is over 4 years:  2015 – 2018.
We invite everyone to pledge and consider a sacrificial gift for this special campaign.
___(2) OUR GOAL.   Our Total Campaign goal is $354,369. 
In this first year only (2015) of the campaign, “Living Stones” and “Works of Mercy” are linked. This means that the first $29,000 of the $354,369 GOAL goes toward the Works of Mercy appeal.  The parish of Lourdes receives 50% of all money raised above $29,000.  And, if we surpass our GOAL, Lourdes receives 60% of all money during 2015-2018. 
WHAT IS EXCELLENT NEWS IS OUR INITIAL PLEDGES EXCEED $29,000 AND THUS SATISFY THE WORKS OF MERCY APPEAL FOR 2015.     We have initial pledges totaling just over $95,000 (ninety five thousand dollars). ]]]]

        Yes, every one of our gifts is welcomed. In fact, we will strengthen our community not only by the dollar amount but also by the number of donors.
            [__Section_03__]     When you contribute, when I contribute, we invest ourselves, we make a commitment ..and we long for – we pray for – this commitment to be realized, to be completed.
            Your gift for the next 4 years will certainly be with us and remain a gift for much longer interval.

            We want to be in it to win it – for the Holy Spirit – for the next 10, 20, 50 years and more.
            As a sacrificial gift, I invite you to consider, perhaps, that a generous gift is one that enables Lourdes to speak, to speak the Word of God, to carry on the basic message of communicating God’s word.

            We are asking everyone to consider a sacrificial gift and hope that the pledge chart on the flyer in the bulletin would be helpful – there is also a pledge chart on the pledge envelope.
            The gift each of us makes is a personal contribution … and a conformity – or conformance with a pre-determined formula.

            Each of us will make gifts of different amounts… but all of us can make a sacrificial gift. And, you also make a gift by your prayers for our parish for the next 4, 40, and 100 years.

            Yes, for every gift of your time, talent and treasure, I greatly appreciate your generosity to Our Lady of Lourdes Church

            [__Section_04__]            And, we appreciate your consideration of these needs which we have identified as capital projects for Our Lady of Lourdes –

            (4.1) Church  Organ - Our church organ has gone beyond its usual life span and is currently maintained through a service contract.  A new church organ would improve our excellent music program and support our adult and children’s choir. Our parish already attracts new visitors through our Christmas Concert and through choral singing for Sundays and Feast Days. The quality of the choir and music may be deciding factors for individual and families in their selection of a parish.  All of us are enabled through music to engage fully and consciously in liturgical prayer.   Our music and our choir are instruments of evangelization and outreach for new visitors!  We want to keep both in tune!

            (4.2) Church Carpeting-  Replacement is necessary to ensure safety and to enhance the beauty of our worship space. We have magnificent brick, marble and wood throughout the church. All of these materials will last for many decades. We have also recently made waterproofing repairs to ensure the integrity of the roof for years to come. The carpet has sustained water damage and wear and tear over the years. We also want to welcome new visitors with a beautiful foundation!

            (4.3) External Infrastructure   -   Our property and grounds including pathways, lighting and parking need incremental improvement.  This will benefit both you, our parishioners, and our visitors. Our location and size enable Lourdes to be a vibrant landmark for both civic and spiritual events. Incremental improvements will keep you, our parishioners, safe and also be attractive to new visitors. We want to make Lourdes a vibrant center from the inside of the building to the outside. Your investment will help us maintain our beauty in the downtown center!

EXAMPLE / HIGHLIGHT -  Our property enables safe arrival and departure of you, our parishioners and visitors. Its size also makes Lourdes an important center socially, spiritually, economically.  Our property is attractive for large gatherings such as the West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade and related events. 

CONCLUSION -- Not everyone can give the same amount, but everyone can make a sacrificial offering.   We recognize that gifts will differ. Nevertheless, all pledges and donations are welcomed, needed, and greatly appreciated.  Every family has different circumstances. I only ask that you consider a pledge that reflects the blessings God has already bestowed upon you and me, upon the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, for this century and the next.



And …so the moment you have all been waiting for …the pledge envelopes / in your pews // and pens.

We are inviting your pledge today, considering that you and I have had some time over the past few weeks to understand the need, see the video and hear the testimony of our parishioners and committee members – Joe Riopel, Carol Ford, and Jeff Salazar.

Please note that pledges are always welcome even after this Sunday May 3rd.

I just want to explain some of the pledge card – we will take up a second collection this Saturday-Sunday of your pledge envelopes.

Thank you to those who might have brought their pledge card from home You can certainly place this in the special SECOND collection. And those who have sent their pledge in already.

For those of you who have sent in your pledge, please know that you are not being asked at this time for any “additional pledge” or a second pledge. You may fill in a card – and simply indicate ….your name, address, phone number, and a note “I already sent in my pledge”

Please note that your pledge is not a legally binding contract and may be adjusted to a higher or lower amount if your circumstances were to change.

You may … if you wish …

·       make an optional down payment toward your pledge
·       inform us when – exactly – you wish to start making payments.
·       This is a request – today – for a pledge ..not for any paid gift.

·       You may make your pledge by having an amount billed to your credit card every month.

·       The We Are Living Stones Campaign will provide updates/statements to you – record-keeping – with reminders – either monthly, quarterly, annually, or semi-annually or in the interval that you determine. You will also receive an end of year statement for your IRS tax return and tax deduction.  You will receive this end of  year statement regardless of the method chosen – either check or credit card or other electronic means.

Thank you for your attention and thank you for all your support and prayers for Lourdes.