15Mar
2019

Lenten Psalm reflection Friday 03/15 by Mark Trudeau

Our Church calls God’s word efficacious.  He speaks and things happen; “let there be light, and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3).  Read More »

15Mar
2019

Lenten Speaker Series

The second talk in Sacred Heart’s 2019 Lenten Speaker Series presentations will occur this Sunday, March 17 at 9:30am in the Parish Multi-purpose Room (former School Cafeteria)

Dr. Elizabeth Stack, Director of the Irish American Heritage Museum will present on Irish Culture.

13Mar
2019

Lenten Psalm Reflection: 03/13/19

Lord, your kindness is forever. Do not let go of Your handiwork.” (Ps. 138:8) Read More »

12Mar
2019

Lenten Psalm reflection, Tuesday March 12th – by Matt Ingold

Think of the many little stresses that happen throughout the day.

 Traffic

 Nicking yourself shaving
 Exam prep
 Deadlines at work

 a baby that can’t be put down without wailing (Erin and I have just entered this
phase, sheesh!)

Amidst all the stresses from life we might feel our only solace can be found at the end of the day in a cold beer, binging NetFlix shows, or gallon of Ben & Jerrys.
But for those of us who have stress in our lives, we ought to consider the response in today’s Psalm and take comfort.  It reads, “From only a little bit of their distress God kind of helps the just.”  Wait, is that what it really says?
We may have a temptation to read Scripture through the lens of a God that is only minorly concerned with our lives. Through the lens of a God with limitations. We can feel tempted to project our own finite humanity or indifference for ourselves on to our Heavenly Father.  But is this really our God of abundance?
The God who answered the material need for more wine at the wedding feast at Cana with super-abundance so a family wouldn’t be embarrassed;
The God who multiplied the loaves and fishes for 5,000 with 12 baskets left over so people could have lunch;
the God who made the flour and oil last for a year so that a widow and her son wouldn’t perish?
There is no stress, no plea, no request that is too little for our abundant, omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (all present everywhere at every time) Heavenly Father.
So when the word of God shares (this is what the Psalm actually says) “From all their distress God rescues the just,” do we believe it? Do we believe that He is capable of it? That he desires not just some of our distress, but all of it?
Do you know your heavenly Father?
Jesus shares, “’Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’” Jn 14:9.
Have you been coming to mass for all these years, and do you still question my love?
Have you been praying for decades, but still think that your problems are too big or too petty for me?
Have you, perhaps like Philip, entered into a relationship of mere proximity with the Lord, rather than one of penetrating intimacy?
Today’s Challenge: Take a few minutes to write on a sheet of paper all of the struggles that you are dealing with at the moment, big and small. Present those struggles to Jesus, and meditate on the image of Jesus eagerly approaching you to take those struggles away. Focus on how excited Jesus is that you are giving him all of your problems. And once you present your list of problems to Jesus, let that Spirit of joy and freedom wash over you.
Then return to today’s Psalm: “From all their distress God rescues the just.” It might just mean something a little different to you.

9Mar
2019

Lenten Psalm reflection, Saturday March 9th, by Fr. Yanas

For a growing number of skeptics in the Western world, especially the elites in our universities and laboratories, prayer is a useless exercise, and a complete waste of time. In the intemperate words of the scoffer,” Why bother praying? Why waste your breath?” To even suggest that the deity—even if He exists at all— listens to and responds to our earnest prayers is sheer folly and unworthy of one who claims to be educated.  Today atheistic materialism trumps religious faith. The Hebrew poet and author of the 86th Psalm would surely beg to differ with the many detractors of prayer. He knows that the God of Israel listens to him when he appeals for help and this conviction, rooted in faith, gives strength to his daily prayer. This Psalm of supplication is truly a prayer in which the individual does not speak to himself or others about God, but speaks directly to God. One has only praise for the utter simplicity of his words. Consider: “I am poor and needy”, “I cry to you all the day long” and “I lift up my soul to you”. In this prayer there is perseverance, humility and absolute trust in the Lord.

As a people of faith, the faithful disciples of Jesus truly believe that God is good and listens to our prayers. In the seventh verse of the 86th Psalm, the Psalmist writes, “When I am in straits I call you, for you shall answer me.”

On the subject of prayer, the nineteenth century English poet got it right. “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”.

Keep praying. At the end of the day, you will not be disappointed.

8Mar
2019

Lenten Psalm reflection, Friday March 8

Lenten Psalm reflection, Friday, March 8th – Psalm 51 by Mark Trudeau

Twenty-five years ago, I first went to St. Joseph’s Abby in Spencer MA.  I was going on retreat with my father and brothers.  When you arrive, you are shown to a single room they call a cell.  There it is very clearly set up for one.  You are told that there is no talking during the weekend retreat except during prayer times and Mass.  The weekends sole purpose is to give the retreatant time alone with our Lord in silence and in the great grace of the Sacraments.  I had been on many retreats before but that weekend changed my life, forever.

The silence was a great opportunity to pray deeply but it was the prayer time with the monks that changed everything.  I was introduced to The Liturgy of the Hours.  I will share more on this in another post be suffice it to say the Liturgy of the Hours focuses on praying the Psalms.

Have you ever wanted to pray but didn’t know what to say?  Have you felt deeply about something but were not sure how to articulate your thoughts?  If your answer is yes, pray the Psalms.  Praying the Psalms opened up all of that and made it possible for me to feel like I was communicating with our good and gracious Father in the way that felt right.  The Psalms said what I wanted to say but could not.  They provided me with continuity and expression that I could not find in my own intellect.  Pray the Psalms and feel the communion with the one who loved us first.

This Friday we read Psalm 51 and it is the beautiful sincerity of the penitent heart.  Perfect for a Friday morning (or anytime).  Read it again and again until these words become your words; until what you read comes from your heart, not your head.  A contrite heart; one that feels remorse and seeks atonement with the one who loves and shows mercy, is a heart ready to commune with God.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness …

7Mar
2019

Lenten Psalm reflection – Thursday, March 7th

One of the holy Fathers of the Catholic Church, St. Augustine, offers a lovely and penetrating reflection on the first verse of the first Psalm of the Old Testament. It is one of the so-called wisdom Psalms.  The words are as follows, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked”.  In the opinion of this great Christian scholar, the blessing applies to Our Lord Jesus Christ, homo dominicus, the Man of the Lord. The Law of the Lord, which is to be our delight  and meditation  day and night , finds its meaning only in Him, As Patrick Reardon, a noted biblical exegete remarks, “Christ is the One who fulfills it, and He is the key to its understanding”. The “blessed man”, Jesus Christ, is an insult to the counterfeit wisdom of this world. The powers of this world cannot abide him. “Let us lie in wait for the righteous one, because he is annoying to us; he opposes our actions, reproaches us for transgressions of the law, and charges us with violations of our training” (Wis.2:12)

It is to be expected that the inspired writer of Hebrew poetry writes in admiration of those pious Jews who delight in the Law “day and night”. One cannot spend too much time meditating on God’s revelation. The Divine word edifies and inspires; it is a source of wonder and pleasure .St. Benedict, the founder of Western Monasticism and a profound guide to Sacred Scripture in his own day, has his disciples arise after the middle of the night, each night, to use its last, quietest deepest hours to meditate upon the Law of the Lord as it is laid out, first of all in the Psalms and then in the other scriptures.

Most of us are likely familiar with the phase “food for thought”. The Divine word is our daily nourishment. As we begin the season of Lent, let us spend time meditating on the Psalms and the other books of the bible as our daily bread.

4Mar
2019

Feb. 3rd Homily by Fr. Yanas – “Concurring our Fears”

Every so often the Metropolitan Opera House (aka “The Met”) in New York City stages a production of a modern day classic, “Dialogue of the Carmelites, a work by the French composer Francis Poulenc. Based on actual events that occurred during the blood stained French revolution at the end of the eighteenth century, the opera explores a theme that remains a vital one today: the power of faith in overcoming fear.

The main focus of the story is a young woman named Blanche. Born into wealth and privilege, she lives a life of comfort and leisure. She is a timid soul, and easily frightened. One might say she is afraid of her own shadow. On the eve of the revolution, the upper classes are subjected to increasing persecution. Even the Church is badly affected by the revolution. Hoping to find safety and peace of mind, Blanche joins one of the penitential Orders of the Church, the Carmelites. The Superior informs Blanche that religious life is not a refuge for the weak and timid. It sometimes requires extraordinary heroism. Sometime later, the nuns are told by local leader of the revolution that they must renounce their vocation and leave the monastery for good. Failure to comply with the order would mean a certain death for all of them. True to form, Blanche runs away. The other nuns remain steadfast.

In the final act, the nuns, having been arrested and forcibly removed from their convent, are imprisoned and awaiting word of their fate. The sentence of death is passed a short time later. For the mostly wealthy patrons of the opera, the final scene is nothing less than shattering. The enthralled members of the audience are given to weeping openly and gasping. Ironically, the audience consists of mostly unbelievers, who seldom show any sympathy whatsoever for people of faith. The brave nuns, now attired in the simple dress of poor peasants, walk in single file to the place of execution. The mere sight of the guillotine must have unnerving. A mob has gathered to curse and throw objects at them. The nuns, faithful all, are singing the “Salve Regina”, a Marian hymn. Suddenly, a brave woman unexpectedly emerges from the crowd, dressed as a simple servant. It is Blanche. She joins her fellow sisters for the supreme sacrifice of one’s life. Love for life did not deter her and the other nuns from death. She died a martyr for Christ. She and the other sisters were beheaded. She had, at last, overcome her fears.

Clearly, the fear of death poisons life. All of us live in its dark shadow. For St. Paul death is the enemy, the last and most dreaded enemy. Yet Paul shows no fear. Although he was faced with many obstacles, he was emboldened to preach Christ crucified and risen. For this great apostle, the Resurrection of Christ is a divinely revealed truth and the ultimate source of the good news.

In today’s second reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, the great apostle concludes his reflections on the mystery of the resurrection.  One recognizes a note of triumph in his stirring words. “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting” (I Cor.15:55). This hymn of victory is consequential for us.. To believe in the Resurrection of Jesus implies belief in the Resurrection of the faithful. Those who share in the Risen life of Christ overcome death. Like a serpent without a sting, Death no longer casts a shadow over the disciple who truly believes.

Bear in mind that Paul himself suffered a violent death in union with Christ. He dies a martyr.

Paul insists that we accept this mystery with gratitude. And this gratitude can only be expressed in acts of faith, hope and charity. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm and steadfast”, he writes. (I Cor.15:58) We must be steadfast and determined, especially in the world’s opposition to Christ and to Christians and all they stand for.

At the end of the day, one lesson is made abundantly clear. Love conquers fear. And there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for others.

26Feb
2019

All things are possible – Homily by Fr. Yanas

In the history of the Irish nation, few events are as significant as the Easter uprising of 1916. At the time, many of the Irish took up arms against the British, who were then unjustly occupying their country .One of the leaders of the revolution was James Connolly, a husband and father of six children. Although he had little formal education he was considered a true scholar by his contemporaries and had adopted Socialist views in politics. Like his comrades he had one objective in mind, namely, to end British rule in Ireland. Quite simply, he wanted the British out. On that memorable Easter day, James Connolly was seriously wounded in a fire fight with British soldiers. He was later captured and later sentenced to death. On the day of his execution, the badly injured Connolly was carried to the prison courtyard, the site of the execution, on a stretcher. Even then, he was close to death. Unable to stand on his own, he was strapped to a chair. An English priest was on hand to administer the last rites of the Catholic Church. Just moments before his death, he made a stunning request of the priest.  “I ask that you say a prayer for the soldier who is about to shoot me”, he whispered. “I will say a prayer for all men who do their duty according to their lights”. While strapped to the chair, James Connolly was executed by a British firing squad. For the cause of a Free Ireland, he gladly and bravely suffered a martyr’s death. According to reputable historians, the British overplayed their hand. Connolly earned the respect of every person who sought freedom and was committed to fighting against all forms of tyranny. Today, James Connolly’s name is inscribed in the Irish Roll of Honor.

How do we account for Connolly’s magnanimous gesture in the face of a grave injustice? How is such a thing possible? James Connolly was a man of faith. A devout Catholic, he embraced the teachings of Jesus and, in particular, his rather difficult teaching of showing mercy to one’s enemies.

All things are possible to the one who believes! (Mk.9:23) Today’s gospel from Luke’s sixth chapter is a continuation of Jesus’ so-called Sermon on the Plain. His standards are nothing less than demanding. The mystery of the cross looms large in his teachings. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you” (Lk.6:27-28). As his disciples, they are to show forth the compassion and mercy of his heavenly Father. As the Father is kind toward all creatures, even those who are not themselves kind, even wicked, so are these disciples to be. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk.6:36).

Time and again, we hear stories of Christians who have shown remarkable compassion in the face of evil. Recall the extraordinary kindness of the late Pope John Paul II. After he recovered from nearly fatal gunshot wounds, John Paul went to the prison, where the man who attempted to kill him, Mehemet Ali Agca, was incarcerated. He offered him words of forgiveness. Even the secular media, rarely disposed to praising the Catholic bishops, were impressed. On the cover page of Time magazine shortly thereafter,, a photograph of the two men appeared along with the caption, “Why Forgive: The Pope pardons the gunman”.

The sixteenth century English jurist and chancellor under King Henry VIII, St. Thomas More, died in the infamous Tower of London. For his opposition to the king, he was tortured and later executed. Just before his unjust death, he was asked by his guards if he had anything to say. Thomas spoke of reconciliation in the life hereafter. His sublime words are worth noting:

“I trust, and therefore shall heartily pray, that though your Lordships have now here on earth been judges in my condemnation, we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together, to our everlasting salvation and thus I desire Almighty God preserve and defend the King’s majesty and to send him good counsel”.

St. Paul exhorted the Christians of Rome to show mercy to their enemies. “Bless your persecutors”, he writes, “bless and do not curse them” (Rom.12:14)

In the past, how have we responded to those who have wounded us? Do we bear grudges?  Do we take to heart the words we recite at every mass: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Do we truly appreciate God’s mercy toward each one of us?

How might I show mercy to others? If we truly put into practice our Lord’s teachings, “our reward will be great and we will be children of the Most High” (Lk.6:35).

21Feb
2019

“Is that all there Is”

Sometime in the late 1960s a talented singer named Peggy Lee recorded one of her most memorable songs in a long and distinguished career. The song’s title is “Is that all there is? A one-time vocalist for the bandleader Benny Goodman, Ms. Lee maintained that she alone was the perfect choice to sing the song. The song was written from the point of view of a person who is sadly disillusioned with life, and whose story is a series of disappointments and setbacks. Ms. Lee suffered the indignities of abuse as a child and later experienced the trauma of four failed marriages. Her life was in shambles!

The inspiration for the song was a short story written by a nineteenth century German novelist, Thomas Mann. The lyrics reflect his rather gloomy perspective on life: “If that is all there is, if that is all there is, my friends, than let’s keep dancing. Let’s break out the booze and have a ball if that is all there is.”

In view of today’s epistle from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, a question arises: “Is this all there is?”It is a compelling question that leads us to the most ultimate question of all, namely, at the end of the day is there just nothing or is there a resurrection of the dead? Is there life after death? Do we simply disappear, erased from memory, annihilated?

In many of the universities of the Western world, belief in an afterlife is subjected to ridicule and scorn. Too many appear to be of the mind of a famous German philosopher of the nineteenth century, Arthur Schopenhauer, whose bleak view of life is worth noting. “People, burdened with fear, want and sorrow, just dance into the arms of death, wondering what the tragic comedy of life is supposed to mean— and finding out it ends in nothing”. Very often professors seek to soften the blow of a meaningless death b resorting to the use of euphemisms. The deceased person is now ‘one with the cosmos’, or continues to survive in his descendents or even reincarnated. Should we be at all surprised that nowadays very little thought is given to the life to come in our secular culture?

The Christian vision is altogether different.

Belief in the Resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its very beginnings. It is an article of faith and is enshrined in our Creed. “I believe in the Resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come”.

In his catechesis on St. Paul, Pope Benedict writes, “The whole teaching of Paul the Apostle starts from, and arrives at, the mystery of him whom the Father raised from the dead”. Bear in mind that Paul handed on a tradition. “Christ, as the scriptures foretold, died for our sins; that he was buried, and then, as the scriptures foretold, rose again on the third day” (1 Cor.:15:3).

In today’s second reading, (I Cor.15:12-20) the apostle Paul gently scolds the Christians at Corinth for their failure to affirm the resurrection of the dead. “How is it that some of you say the dead do not rise again?” (I Cor.15:12) He carefully explains to the Corinthians the stark implications if Jesus has not been raised. First, his preaching is in vain; second, He is open to the charge of misrepresenting god, of being a false prophet; third, the faith of the Corinthians is meaningless; and fourth, those who died as Christians are definitively lost.

To believe in the Resurrection of Christ entails belief in the Resurrection of the dead. To deny one is to deny the other. “If hope is to be confined to this life and this life only’, insists Paul, “then we are the most pitiable of people”(I Cor.15:19).

Time and again, Christian faith in the Resurrection has met with opposition and incomprehension. In the ancient world, the body was regarded with suspicion and looked upon as the soul’s tomb or prison. It was not in the least desirable to return to it beyond the grave. In stark contrast, the Christian faith teaches that all that God creates is good (Gen.1:31). Human persons, body and soul, are destined to share in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Like the martyrs of our church, we, too, must bear witness to the Resurrection. Love for life did not deter them from death. They were fully confident that a new life awaited them in the hereafter.  If we were to be asked the question, “Is this all there is?”, I pray that we all give a resounding reply: NO! As a community of faith, we echo the words of St. Paul. We believe in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come!

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CATHOLIC COMMUNITY OF SACRED HEART – MISSION STATEMENT

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.

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