The Great deceiver

“Of all the divine attributes, only god’s omnipotence is named in the creed: to confess his power has great bearing on our lives” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #268)

In the award winning motion picture, “The Wizard of Oz”, a marvelous adaptation of the novel written by L. Franklin Baum, there are two key scenes in which the wizard appears. Dorothy and her companions, the scarecrow, the cowardly lion and the tin man, turn up in the palace of the wizard, hoping to have an audience with him. Thanks to their friendship with the Good Witch, Glinda, they are permitted to enter the wizard’s presence. The wizard fancies himself as one who is wise and all-powerful, and with no equal. His demeanor is frightful. He appears as a large, ghostly head surrounded by fire and smoke. He bellows and scolds his four terrified visitors. His thunderous voice makes him seem omnipotent.

Later in the story, Toto, Dorothy’s pet dog, exposes the wizard as a fraud, a phony. He is simply a middle-aged man who speaks through a microphone, and not the omnipotent Lord of the citizens of Oz. The so-called “wizard” is humbled.

This wonderful story serves notice to the rulers and the powerful of our world.  Only One is all-powerful and wholly other; only One stands apart from anything sinful: the Holy One of Israel. His glory fills the whole earth.

The prophet Isaiah lived seven and one-half centuries before the birth of Christ. According to scholars, he was a member of Jewish royalty and lived in Jerusalem. While in the Temple, the center of worship for the Chosen People, Isaiah finds himself in the presence of the Lord. He has an unexpected vision of God’s holiness (Is.6:1-8). In all likelihood, Isaiah’s vision occurred during a liturgical service. His calling as a prophet is connected with this vision. God’s divine presence is symbolized by the train of the garments that fills the temple as well as the thunderous sound of the earthquake and the Holy Place being filled with smoke. Overcome by great awe and a feeling of his own unworthiness, he cries out, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips” (Is.6:5). He expresses his solidarity with his own people. They, too, are a people of unclean lips! The holiness of God is a central theme in the book of the prophet. A great chasm exists between God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness. After the prophet is cleansed, he immediately responds to God’s call.

A similar theme is found in today’s gospel. In the face of the miraculous catch of fish, Peter does not throw his arms around Jesus to express joy at his good fortune.. There were no hi-fives. It is significant that he falls to his knees in the presence of Christ and cries, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man”

So, too, St. Paul. Remembering that he had been a persecutor of the Church, he professed himself unworthy to be called an apostle.(1 Cor.15:9)

What lessons can we derive from today’s readings?

First and foremost, no one can “walk with God” or be a disciple of Jesus without first recognizing his unworthiness, his sinfulness. The gulf separating us from God’s holiness is infinite and immeasurable;

Second, the glory of the Temple in Jerusalem pales in comparison to the glory that fills our Catholic churches. Christ dwells in our midst and makes his presence known to us in the “breaking of the bread”. And what must be our response? Recall the words of the centurion, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and my servant shall be healed” (Mt.8:8) May our encounters with the Living God help us to recognize our sinfulness and our need for a Savior to lead and guide us.

Finally, let us recall the words heard by the prophet in the Temple of Jerusalem and sung by members of the congregation immediately prior to the words of consecration at mass, the Sanctus: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory”. Like Isaiah and later, St. Peter, we kneel in awe, for we realize that we are in a presence far greater than ourselves.

Unlike the fictional wizard of Oz, God cannot deceive us. He is truly all-powerful and wise. A close encounter with Him can transform a life and bring humility and joy in its wake. That should be our daily prayer!




“Will anything last”

The great Irish poet William butler Yeats once spotted a little girl building sandcastles on a beach in Normandy, France. The mere sight of a child at play delighted the sentimental poet, and brought a smile to his face. His delight turned to sadness a short time later after a huge wave came ashore and rolled over the sand, resulting in the ruination of the young girl’s work. His thoughts immediately turned to all the many great cultures and civilizations that had been washed away by the waves of time. Moreover, he reflected on his own mortality, that a day would come when he would turn to dust. “Will anything last”, he wondered.

St. Paul has the answer!

His ‘hymn to charity’ in the thirteenth chapter of his first Letter to the Corinthians, is surely one of the most beautiful pages in all of Paul’s writings. In this epistle, he maintains that the one reality in life that is enduring, and will never disappear, is love, the deepest of all mysteries. In his words, “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor.13:7-8). Only love knows no end. Love, genuine love, is of the fabric of eternity. The gift of love expresses God’s very life and is the foundation of all reality. “God is Love”, writes John the Evangelist, “and he who abides in God abides in love” (I Jn.4:16) The love Paul writes of in his letter is one always thinking and acting for the good of others and never for oneself first.

One could easily anticipate this epistle of St. Paul being proclaimed at weddings. To be sure, It is very popular with young couples, even those who may not even be churchgoers or even faintly familiar with the Word of God. But would a family in mourning consider aforementioned reading for a funeral mass?

In 1997, a funeral service was held at England’s Westminster Abbey for Diana, Princess of Wales, and the late wife of Prince Charles. The then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, a later convert to the Catholic Church, read the passage from 1 Corinthians 13 chosen by the young princess’s family. Paul’s stirring words reminded the congregation assembled for the service that love never dies; it is indestructible. He makes a strong case for immortality. In the Song of Songs, one of the books of the Old Testament, we read, “Many waters cannot put out love nor rivers sweep it away” (Song of Songs 8:7).

In the mid 1990’s I celebrated daily mass for a religious community of Carmelite nuns in Schenectady. Upon entering the monastery you saw a large signs with a powerful inscription from the pen of St. Teresa of Avila, a sixteenth century reforming nun and member of the Carmelite order. It read, “All things in life are passing away. Only heaven lasts”.

Love gave one of the great figures of the Carmelite order, St. Therese of Liseaux , the key to understanding her vocation as a consecrated woman. Among her writings was a passage in which she talks about her search for what she believed to be her own unique calling to serve the Church. For help, she turned to St Paul. His writings taught her that not everyone is called to be an apostle, a prophet or a teacher. This left her baffled but still determined. She kept on reading.  Suddenly, she comes to the words in today’s reading. She writes, “Nearly ecstatic with supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed, ‘O Jesus, at last I have found my calling”’ .

Love is the measure by which we will all be judged once our earthly pilgrimage is complete. May we all be inspired and led by Paul’s teaching on the greatest of the theological virtues and the highest of all gifts, the mystery of love.



Pastoral Care

One of the missions of our parish is to care for the sick and suffering members of our community. In order to fulfill this goal, we need the help of our parishioners.

If you have a family member, friend or neighbor who is unable to attend Mass and would like the bulletin or a communion visit, please call the rectory at (518) 274-1363 during regular business hours.


Roark Center Donations

Every 3rd weekend of the month, Sacred Heart will be collecting toiletries for the Roarke Center in Troy. Donations may be deposited in the regular Roarke Center Box located in the back of church.

For the month of February they are requesting shampoo, conditioner and bar soap. As always, thank you for your generosity to those less fortunate.


People of God

We whose native language is English need to be aware that when we call ourselves the Catholic Church, our vocabulary does not match the terminology of the Scriptures. The word Church can mean a body of people, but also an institution or simply a building.

The Scriptural terminology puts the focus on the assembly of God, i.e. on the community of people aspect. Thus, Vatican Council II simply called us “the people of God”. By the way, it did not mean that everyone was equal or the same, in the modern sense of democracy, but rather that each has a role to play within the community assembly.

So, in today’s reading from St. Paul, he lists the great variety of roles provided by the Holy Spirit, all of which are intended for the common good of the assembly. We each have our own unique gifts, meant to serve not ourselves, but the community. One of the great experiences of community is sharing a banquet together – an experience often missing in contemporary life, which tends to look upon eating as a purely material function for the nourishment of the body without any “community” dimension.

It is not mere coincidence that Jesus worked his first sign of the new creation by enhancing a banquet (today’s Gospel). Nor is it a coincidence that he bequeathed to us contact with His saving act under the sign of a community meal (Eucharist). We need to repent of our rugged individualism and consider our role as a member of a community.


School News

March Madness Raffle: Sacred Heart’s annual March Madness Raffle is underway!  Additional forms may be found in the hallway locted at the rear of the church or on the school website at  www.SacredHeartSchoolTroy.com  Every $10 ticket gives you 31 chances to win $100 with the grand prize of $1,000 (picked on St. Patrick’s Day!)

Like the NYS Lottery says, “You have to be in it to win it”!


Altar Bread and Wine

Did you know that in memory of a deceased loved one, or to commemorate a special event, a donation may be made to purchase the monthly altar bread and/or wine offered at each Eucharistic celebration.

For more information, please call the parish office at 274-1363.

Our Altar Wine for the month of January has been gifted in memory of Mr. & Mrs. Patrick Cullen and Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Pejza by David & Charlotte Cullen.


Tax Statements

If you requested, and picked up, a statement last year you should be able to find this year’s statement in the back of church in the end of January. If you have not requested one in the past and would like one or requested one last year and didn’t pick it up, please call Barbara at the rectory (518) 274-1363 and we will add you to the list. Thank you.


Baptism of the Lord

If one listens carefully to today’s Scripture readings, one will hear talk of the release of the Holy Spirit, foretold by the prophets, realized in the Baptism of Jesus.

We may think of Baptism as simply the erasure of original sin and the official taking on of a name (Christening), but, in reality, it is far more than that, and we need to constantly be paying attention to what that more is in our daily lives.

In the Genesis story of creation, we hear that God initially breathed His Holy Spirit upon the world, to bring it into existence. We are familiar with what human beings did to God’s plans for us. And so, in an effort to start over again, God chose the people Israel to be a leaven for the entire human race. The Old Testament is full of indications that the Jews, although God’s elect, were not quite up to that task. And so, Jesus came into our midst to be the new Israel, bringing about a new creation, ultimately for all, with the new Israel as the leaven.

The key to understanding today’s feast, is not that Jesus needed Baptism to forgive original sin.  Rather as the firstborn of the new Israel, Jesus’ baptism is a sign of the release of the Holy Spirit to bring about a new creation.  Said another way, this Baptism of the Lord represents a new way for human beings to live their lives, in union with the risen Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We, who have been baptized, need to live ever conscious of this destiny!


Parish Family Music Minister

To all qualified applicants: consider joining our parish family and leading us in prayer and worship of our Lord Jesus Christ in song. We are in need of a joyful music minister to lead at weekend Masses, Holy Day Masses, Weddings, Funerals and Sacramental celebrations.

Come inspire us and be inspired at Liturgy meetings and Faith Formation meetings. Come share your talents and leadership skills with our Cantors, Instrumentalists and Choirs. We are offering a spiritual home, a place to pray and lead worship. We are offering competitive compensation, flexible schedule and continuing education.

We are asking for a passionate person desiring a place to love and be loved.

Interested parties may respond to:

Parish Community of Sacred Heart
310 Spring Ave., Troy NY 12180

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The Catholic Community of Sacred Heart welcomes all people to join in our celebration of Gods love. Through prayer, education, and caring for others, we strive to serve the needs of Gods people, thereby gaining a richer understanding of the gospel message.

Mass Schedule

Saturday Vigil 4:00 pm Sunday 8:30 am & 10:30 am Weekday 9:00am


Saturday: 3:00pm or by appointment (Call 274-1363)


Please call the Rectory (274-1363) weekdays for information and scheduled dates.


Please call the Rectory (274-1363) weekdays for an appointment at least six months in advance of wedding.

Hospital Visits

If you, or a loved one is admitted to the hospital, it is important that you identify yourself to the hospital as a member of Sacred Heart Parish or contact the Rectory (274-1363) to inform us of your hospitalization.

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