Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Week of December 8 2013

Dear Friends,

The scenario we hear in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah may seem, well, bizarre. 

“the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb”

“the leopard shall lie down with the kid”

“the calf and the young lion shall browse together”

“the baby shall play by the cobra’s den”

The outcome of these we are told is that “there will be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord.”

Occasionally you will find a news story about somebody who tried to test this out.  Usually it is a person who dies after being bitten by a poisonous snake while worshipping God.  

May I recommend that you not try this.  Not that I have a lack of faith in God’s promises, but because I have an understanding of scripture that tells me that the prophet is presenting these extreme examples to illustrate a point: that our view of God, of his ways, of his plan and of what he has in store for us is much greater and different than anything we can imagine.  We don’t look forward to heaven as being the equivalent of a really good day.  Heaven is being in total union with God in a state of perfect happiness and love.  As great as our experiences of these things are, they pale to what God offers us.

Once we recognize that our thinking and our ways are what need to change, we are able to experience the spiritual growth that leads us to a deeper peace and love in our lives.  That is why one of the great blessings we have is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  This gives us the opportunity to start over after we’ve strayed.  We are sometimes embarrassed or angry at ourselves and these emotions keep us from the sacrament.  However, this just keeps the burden on us and becomes and obstacle to the joy the Lord wishes us to live with.  I invite you to join us this Wednesday at 7PM for our Advent Reconciliation Service.  It will be a liturgy of the Word, followed by the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  This is a great way to prepare our hearts for the Christmas celebration!
One of our parishioners, Gabrielle Vaillancourt, a student at John Paul II High School, is raising funds to participate in the school’s Concert Choir Tour to New York City in the Spring.  She will be at the front doors of the church following masses this weekend selling raffle tickets.
Since December 8 is on a Sunday this year, the Solemnity of Immaculate Conception is moved to Monday, December 9.  This feast celebrates Mary’s conception without sin.  Since it is on a Monday, it is not a holy day of obligation this year and we will only have our usual 7:30AM Mass.
Please keep our college students in our prayers.  Many colleges and universities are beginning their final exams this week.  This is a very stressful time and we want to be sure that all the supports that are necessary are in place for them.  Our prayers are invaluable and do make a difference.

Fr. David

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Week of November 17

Dear Friends,

With the “visit” this past week of some snowflakes, I am reminded of the need to share with you the plan for the winter concerning Mass and snowstorms.  If Bourne Public Schools are delayed or cancelled due to weather, daily Mass will be cancelled that day.  This isn’t so I can get a snow day and sleep in, but rather because our public officials are concerned with the condition of the roads and for the safety of all are asking to keep the roads as clear from traffic as possible.  In the event of a snowstorm or other extreme weather occurring on the weekend or during school vacations, “common sense trumps canon law”. I will post if Mass is cancelled on our Facebook and by email through Flocknote (To register for Flocknote, go to www.flocknote.com/sje).
As you have probably gathered through the bulletin and some of the changes at Mass, there is a lot going on in our family of faith and more programs and activities in the works!  To help maintain this momentum and meet the growing needs of our parish, I would like to announce a couple of staffing “adjustments”.  Crystal Medeiros is taking on the role of Director of Faith Formation for Youth and Adults.  She will continue overseeing Confirmation and Youth and Young Adult Programs and will also take on developing catechetical, scriptural and spiritual programs for adults in the parish. John Brennan is now our Director of Music and Liturgy.  He will continue his work in the development of the music program here at St. John’s.  In addition, he will oversee the recruitment, training and ongoing formation of our many liturgical and related ministries as well as planning of liturgies and prayer services.  Rest assured I won’t be hanging around all day at the Rectory watching Soaps and eating BonBons!  These two staffing moves will help facilitate more efficiently the growth that we are experiencing as a parish.
If you use envelopes for your weekly contribution, you will notice a change beginning in December.  We have changed companies and the new envelopes will have a different scripture quote each month.  As part of our emphasis on faith formation, this is a way where a normally routine activity can contribute to one’s prayer and spirituality. We invite families and individuals to use the quote as a means of preparing for Mass each Sunday.  Also, every action that we do at Mass has some meaning, and our weekly contribution is no different. We are able to do what we do as a family of faith based on the support of each member of the faith family (including the pastor-yes, even I use envelopes!). This weekly contribution is not only a financial decision, but also one that is based on one’s prayerful reflection.
Please keep the victims of last week’s typhoon in the Philippines and Vietnam in your prayers.  The Knights of Columbus will be at the doors of the Church this weekend selling raffle tickets for an Outdoor Christmas Display.  Proceeds from the sale of tickets will go to Catholic Relief Services.  In addition, at our Thanksgiving Mass on the 26th, we will do a collection for relief efforts.
Don’t forget our Mass of Thanksgiving on Tuesday November 26th at 6PM. Again, please bring a canned good that will go to the Bourne Food Pantry.  We will also have a special collection for the victims of the Typhoon.  Youth are encouraged to wear their school colors in anticipation of the Thanksgiving games.  We will have a special blessing for children and youth as well.  Following Mass, everyone is invited to the Parish Hall for a free Pasta Dinner!  If you are planning on attending the dinner, please RSVP by contacting the Parish Office or through the website so we are able to prepare enough food.

Fr. David

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 10

Dear Friends, 

The readings today remind us of our belief in eternal life and the Resurrection.  We don’t believe that Jesus was a wise teacher, he was (and is) the Son of God who really rose from the dead.  No resurrection, no Christianity.

As a result of the resurrection, we live in hope and joy because we know we are offered to share the fruits of his victory over death.  While we all will experience an earthly death, it is not the end of our lives.  St. Paul reminds us though that eternity with God is not something we earn or can achieve on our own.  At best, humanity can only delay death.  We cannot overcome it.  Heaven is the goal of the Christian. If it is our goal, but we cannot earn it, what hope do we have?  Paul tells us that God love overcomes our weakness.  He offers us the graces we need.  When we accept those graces, we are able to grow in our union with Him.

At the same time, we are given the task to share the message of the Gospel with all people.  God desires that all who are made in His image and likeness share in the hope and joy of heaven. This can seem to be an overwhelming task, yet those graces help us to persevere.  We need to be sure that in the good times, we take the time to build up our spiritual endurance so that in the rough times we are able to persevere.  We must also remember that we are not alone in this journey of faith.  We are a part of a family of faith.  When you are tired, worn down and/or struggling, this family keeps you close to their hearts in prayer.  We need to be sure that in the good times, we are taking time to pray for those who can’t.
Certainly one of the biggest trials we experience in our lives is the loss of a loved one.  Our hearts are heavy and we may wonder how God could allow death to happen.  This is particularly the case when the death is sudden or involves a young person. One of the tasks of the family of faith is to walk this journey with those who mourn.  This is a part of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.  To assist in the pastoral care of those who are mourning, I would like to create a team of volunteers trained to assist with the Funeral Rites as well as in the follow up care of family members.  If you are interested, please let me know.
Every year Bishop Coleman recognizes dedicated lay women and men who have contributed in great ways to the life of their parishes.  The Marian Medal is awarded to these individuals on the Solemnity of Christ the King, this year on November 24, 2013 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River.  A couple of months ago I organized a committee of parishioners to take the task of giving me a name to nominate for this recognition.  I would like to thank them for their service in that task.  I submitted the name they gave me and was notified the other day that Bishop Coleman has been selected Jack Garrity to receive the Marian Medal.  As you may know, Jack is very involved in many aspects of the life of St. John’s and I was very happy that he is being recognized for his commitment to St. John’s.  Please join me in congratulating Jack!
Please consider joining us on Tuesday November 26 at 6PM for a special Mass of Thanksgiving.  High School youth are invited to wear their school colors in preparation for Thursday’s big games.  All are invited to bring a canned good that we will donate to the Bourne Food Pantry.  I am very excited to invite you to the free Pasta Dinner that will follow right after Mass!  The staff want to thank you for your support of our family of faith and felt this was the best way to do so.  We just ask that you contact us to let us know if you are planning on attending the dinner so we can get an idea of how much pasta to cook.  You can call Patty at 508-563-5887, email us at office@sjeparish.com or click on the link on our website, www.stjohnspocasset.org.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week of November 3

Wow! November already! It has been a very quick five months as your pastor and very busy.  I am very thankful to so many who work to make St. John’s the parish that it is.  We have had a long history, going back long before we were officially made a parish in 1969, of people giving of themselves to build up our community here.  I would like to publically thank three individuals. Josephine Fletcher, Marie Czarnetski, and Madeleine Abromavage .  For the last 20-30+ years, they have worked at providing music at our liturgies.  When I met with them all over the summer it was apparent that we needed a music director to help organize the liturgical music with the various celebrations and programs that were being created as well as to provide the musicians and cantors ongoing formation.  Providing music at Mass is more than just showing up.  It is a ministry, it takes time to practice, to learn the rhythms of the liturgical year and to be spiritually prepared as well.  Over the years they have ministered to us, but have not been ministered to themselves.  When John Brennan came on board, he not only took over the role of planning music and scheduling musicians and cantors, he is also tasked in the continuing education and formation of these individuals.  Madeleine and Josephine both let John know that the time commitment is just too much and have stepped away from the ministry.  Marie has asked to be on the schedule just once a month.  Joe Sullivan, who also has been a longtime cantor, will continue as a cantor.  Please join me in thanking them for their service and commitment to the community!
A definite sign that the season is changing:  The Christmas displays are going up in the stores, and Donna is looking for children to join this year’s Christmas Choir!  Every year Donna works with children of our parish in forming a Christmas Choir that provides the music for our 4PM Christmas Eve Mass.  That tradition is continuing.  Rehearsals will begin Wednesday November 13 at 5:30PM.  Children in Grades 1 and above are invited to join.  In addition, Donna has agreed to work with the Choir throughout the year.  They will provide the music at Mass at least once a month.  See the announcement in this week’s bulletin for more information.
In November we pray in a special way for our beloved dead.  The Book of Remembrance has been placed near the baptismal font.  I invite you to write in the names of your deceased relatives and friends and we will be sure to pray for them at each liturgy throughout the month of November.
November is also the month of Thanksgiving!  In the middle of a great war and crisis, President Lincoln called on Americans to take some time to be thankful for the blessings in their lives. About a week ago, the parish staff met for the first time with the new staff members who have joined the team.  In the course of the conversation it was noted how thankful we are for all you, the family of faith at St. John’s.  It is our greatest honor and privilege to serve you.  In appreciation, we invite you to a free pasta dinner immediately following our Thanksgiving Mass on Tuesday November 26.  Also at that Mass, we invite high school students to wear their school colors as we offer a blessing a thanksgiving for all of our youth, you could call it a spiritual pep rally before Thursday’s big games!  I ask that if you would like to attend the dinner that you let us know so we can prepare.  You can contact Patty in the office or go to our website.
Fr. David 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week of October 27

Dear Friends,

Next Friday is the Solemnity of All Saints, a holy day of obligation.  Our Mass schedule on Friday will be: 7:30AM, 9AM and 5PM. November is a time when we traditionally pray for all of the deceased.  We pray in hope that they are with our heavenly Father. We pray to the saints to pray for us as we seek to be saints ourselves.  Throughout the month of November we will have the Book of Remembrance set up near the baptismal font.  You are invited to write in the names of deceased relatives and friends whom you would like us to pray for whenever we gather for the celebration of the Eucharist.
November 1 is also First Friday.  Following Mass there will be Eucharistic Adoration until 8PM.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available until 6:30PM.  At 7PM there will be formal Evening Prayer concluding with Benediction.
The Office of Readings for the Solemnity of All Saints has a section of a sermon from St. Bernard, one of my favorite saints.  I would like to share with you part of that reflection:

“Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.

“Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them. 

“Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.”

Fr. David