Pastors Page

Rev. John J. Yanas

Pastor, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Troy, N.Y. 12180   2008 – Present

A 1972 graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, Father Yanas was ordained in 1984.

In the early years of his priesthood, Father Yanas served at Sacred Heart alongside Father Vaughan, from 1985 until 1992.  Prior to returning to Sacred Heart Parish in 2008, Father Yanas served as Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Apostles in Frankfort, New York.

Since his arrival for a second “tour of duty,” as our Pastor, Father Yanas has brought a renewed sense of energy, purpose and community to the Catholic Community of Sacred Heart.

 

April 20, 2019 “Easter Light” Easter Vigil Homily:

On a hot and steamy night in July of 1977, a bolt of lightning struck a power line in New York City, resulting in a massive power outage. In the city that never sleeps, the lights died.  It was a night of terror. In the absence of light, electrical and earthly, for several hours chaos ensued. By the time light was restored, 1600 businesses had been looted, 3,000 people arrested, and numerous cars set ablaze. The human cost was consequential: 32 policemen were wounded and countless firefighters suffered injuries after battling 1000 fires. At least for one night, New York City became a place where evil, which had to hide in the light of day, suddenly came out and caused mayhem. The powers of darkness, previously quiet, were very active and destructive.

Without light, people cannot see one another; they often stumble and fall, and suffer the loss of fellowship. Darkness often inspires fear and dread.  We can all agree that houses are not haunted in the daylight hours! Darkness, a symbol of death, can help us appreciate what light truly is for us.

Light is a dominant symbol of the Easter vigil service. As the service commences, the church is in total darkness. The darkened church is a powerful symbol and a chilling reminder of a fallen world, a world unredeemed and without hope. It is then that a single lighted candle is brought into the church, piercing the darkness. The resplendent Paschal (or Easter) candle is a symbol of Christ, crucified and Risen. In the gloom of death, Christ comes as light and is clothed in light. Jesus took light from heaven and brought it to the earth… the light of truth and the fire of love that transforms us. (Benedict XVI) Christ is truly raised from the dead, and is the morning star who, in his Passion and Resurrection, has conquered the darkness. The recent tragedy in Sri Lanka where nearly three hundred Christians were cruelly and, in brutal fashion, massacred, is a painful reminder that the night continues, but it is a night in which a light has been lit. And that glowing light will never be extinguished! “O God, you can bring light in darkness”, declares Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, one of the leading figures of the nineteenth century Catholic Church.

At the very dawn of creation, God said, “Let there be light”. At Easter, in the morning of the first day of the week, Sunday, God said once more, “Let there be light” Christ is our light.  He is the One who is “God from God, Light from Light”. In the early Church, the priest, once his sermon ended, would cry out to the faithful in Latin, “Conversi ad Dominum”, meaning “Turn now towards the Lord”. The congregation would then face east, towards the rising sun.

Christ belongs to the world of the living, and not the dead. He is not simply a character from the distant past. No! He lives and walks before us as one who is alive. He did not remain in the tomb; His body did not see corruption. As St. Paul remarks in his Letter to the Romans, “We know that Christ raised from the dead dies no more, death no longer has power over Him”. (Rom. 6:10)

On either side of life, we are with Christ.

Edith Stein and her sister, Rosa, were both Jewish converts to the Catholic faith, and members of a contemplative order, the Carmelites. One day in 1945, the two women were arrested by German authorities and shortly thereafter were forced to board a train headed eastward… to one of the most notorious concentration camps, Auschwitz. According to reliable witnesses Edith Stein (Sr. Benedicta of the Cross), remained largely serene throughout the entire ordeal. At one point in her journey, she turned to her sister and said, “Rosa, we must go for our people. We are headed east, towards the dawn, towards the Rising Sun.” Her faith in the Resurrection never wavered. She remained steadfast in her Christian faith until the day of her martyrdom.

Today, night seems to have fallen in those countries where Christians are persecuted with impunity and even killed for their faith in the crucified and risen Christ. Darkness seems to reign supreme in many places in our troubled world. But there is no need for us to be anxious. After all, we are the victors. We are on the winning side. Christ is no longer in the tomb. He has been raised from the dead. Let us gladly and with enthusiasm repeat the words of Tom Bodett, a spokesman for the Motel 6 motel chain to all those who are secularists, Islamic terrorists, atheists, anti-Christian bigots and, sad to say,  members of the mostly hostile mainstream media: “We”ll leave the light on for you”.

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.”

Amen!

 

April 19, 2019 Good Friday Homily:

“Wordless is the Word of the Father who made every creature which speaks.”

                                                                                 St. Maximos the Confessor

Listen attentively to the words of the prophet: “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter and like a sheep before its shearers, so he opened not his mouth”

Silence is one of the characteristics of Our Lord’s Passion. When he appeared before Pilate, the Roman Procurator, He gave him the silent treatment. Pilate: “Where are you from?” Jesus did not answer him. So Pilate said to him, “So you do not speak to me! Do you not know that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” Jesus said not a word when Pilate condemned him to death. His remarkable calm under duress must have stunned the jaded representative of Rome. Normally, the accused experience a shock upon hearing the death sentence passed on him.

The High Priest, Caiaphas must have been unnerved by Christ as well. At the religious trial of Jesus, Caiaphas thundered, “Have you no answers to the accusations against you?” Jesus did not reply. He was still silent, still did not answer.

When people insulted Jesus on Good Friday and shouted, “crucify him, crucify him”, he remained silent.

On Calvary, the cross of Jesus not only portrays the silence of Jesus as his final word to the Father, it also reveals that God speaks to us through silence.

In moments of darkness and tribulation, we need to keep a holy silence. In the words of Pope Francis, we must seek to find the courage not to speak and vent our anger.

It is rather interesting to note that the two closest to Jesus in his life on earth, Mary and the Beloved Disciple uttered not a single word at the foot of the cross.

In this age of “talk radio”, social media, and the twenty four hour news cycle, there is endless chatter and blather that is truly suffocating so many of us. We yearn to breathe. On this Good Friday, we must once again recognize the importance of silence, stillness and prayer. Like Mary and the Beloved Disciple, we must stand at the foot of the cross contemplating the wounds of Our Savior. And like our crucified Lord, we must raise our hearts and minds in prayer.

In John’s account of the Passion, the cross is not simply an instrument of torture, suffering and death, but an infallible sign of hope and victory. Calvary is no longer the place of death. It is where death is defeated and life came to all!

As Christians, we enjoy a respite from observing silence after the forty days of Lent. On Easter day, we can all cry out, “Alleluia, the Lord is risen!”

Amen!

Rev. J. Yanas, April 19, 2019

 

Liturgy of The Lord’s Supper Homily:

Surely one of the most puzzling figures in the New Testament is Judas Iscariot, one of Our Lord’s disciples who betrayed him with a kiss. Personally chosen by Jesus, Judas was a witness to our Lord’s miracles and one who listened intently to his teachings. By all accounts, he was a member of Jesus’ inner circle, one of the twelve apostles. Why did Judas break with Jesus? Why did he turn on his teacher and master? One explanation was his love of money. In the twelfth chapter of John’s gospel, we read, “Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, the one who would betray him said, ’Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?’ He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions”. (Jn.12:4-5) But another explanation must be considered. Judas broke with Our Lord on the very day he announced the giving of His flesh for the life of the world.

After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves in the beginning of John’s sixth chapter, Jesus gave his memorable “bread of life” discourse in the Capernaum synagogue. Jesus spoke boldly and unambiguously of himself as the living bread come down from heaven. His words were shocking. “You can have no life in yourselves unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood. My flesh is true food and my blood true drink”. (Jn.6:53, 55) It is likely that many of his listeners considered him mad. “As a result of this many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him”. (Jn.6:66)  Still, he would not retract any of his words. At the end of his sermon, Jesus uttered these ominous words: “Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?” (Jn.6:71) He was referring to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot; it is he who would betray him as one of the twelve. It is interesting to note that each account of the Last Supper shows Satan entering Judas. “The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over”. (Jn13:2) Of Judas, Jesus said, “For he knew who would betray him; for this reason he said, not all of you are clean”. (Jn.13:11) In his book, “The Life of Christ”, Bishop Fulton Sheen coupled the two events of the bread of life discourse and the Last Supper. “At the promise of the heavenly bread, Judas cracked, and at the giving of the Eucharist on the night of the Last Supper, Judas split wide open and betrayed Jesus.”

Under the malevolent influence of the Evil One, Judas became one of the first of Our Lord’s followers to reject his teaching on his real presence in the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, the bread Christ gives the Apostles is the same body he is to give up for them on the cross. During his farewell meal, Jesus said, “Take and eat, this is my Body.” What does he mean? In Semitic language, body means the whole person. It is as if Jesus said, “I myself am this bread with my whole history and life. My life will be broken like this bread. I give it that you may share it”. Jesus gives us a share in his existence. In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus gives himself, his body and blood, into our hands and into our hearts.

Today there is a diabolical rage aimed at Catholic churches where the Eucharist is celebrated. Churches and cathedral are burned to the ground, consecrated communion hosts are desecrated and the teachings of Christ and his Church are routinely mocked. Not many cries of protests are heard. The secular mainstream media largely ignore the calumnies and violence. In their view, the many incidents of profanation of the Eucharist and the destruction of our churches are simply not newsworthy!

Even the faithful are not without blame. From the parables of Jesus we are told that Our Lord knows all about empty places at the banquet of life. Too many invitations to the feast are refused or ignored. There is simply a lack of interest in the Mass. Many of the great cathedrals of Europe have been turned into museums. Even in our own church Mass attendance is dwindling.

As Catholics, we are aware that on the night of the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the two great sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood. “Do this in memory of me”, he commanded. He also gave his disciples the command to serve the needs of one another, as he humbled himself to wash the feet of his disciples. We must always be prepared to defend the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist!

Let us not forget that Christ’s farewell meal was sorrowful. He leaves the supper to be arrested. Within eighteen hours, he will be tortured to death. Perhaps Jesus’ anguish intensified after the Last Supper. “After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly”. (Jn.13:27)

The Eucharist is, and always will be, the touchstone of our faith.

Amen!

Rev. J. Yanas, April 18, 2019

 

Homilies:

Click on the link below to visit Fr. Yanas’ Homilies Page.

Recent Homilies and Reflections

Caring Bridge:

Click the link below to visit Fr. Yanas’ Caring Bridge journal.  (Note: Login required.  Follow instructions on Caringbridge.org site.)  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/revjohnyanas

 

 

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