Saturday, January 7, 2017

STORM MESSAGE January 7, 2017

Pastor’s Perspective ~ DEFINING CHRISTMAS!

If  asked  to  tell  the  Christmas  Story, most of us are likely to give the account
of  the  birth  of  Jesus  at  Bethlehem, we may complete that by including the arrival of the Magi from the east as we observe the Feast of the Epiphany today.

Would any of us be likely to include the account of Jesus changing water into wine at
the wedding in Cana? Yet to many Orthodox  Christians  of  the  East, the  Wedding at  Cana  is  the  final  act  in  the  “Christmas Story”
which begins with the Nativity, includes  the  Magi,  the  Presentation in the Temple, the Flight into  Egypt, the  Return to  Nazareth,  the  Finding  of  Jesus  in  the  Temple,  and  the  Lord’s  Baptism  by  John in  the  Jordan.  Indeed,  Christmas  for  traditional Christians of the west and east is not  restricted  to  the  story  of  the  birth  of Jesus but rather only begins there and includes all of the “early manifestations” that this Jesus born at Bethlehem and raised at Nazareth  is  truly  the  Messiah  of  God. So while  we  in  the  west  stop  at  his  baptism and our first cousins in the catholic tradition in the east continue with the memorable  first  miracle  the  Christmas  story truly encompasses the first 30 and largely hidden years in the life of Jesus.

That is why Christmas is a season that only just begins with the Solemnity of the Nativity  of  the  Lord  but  continues  through Monday, January  9th  this  year  when  it concludes  with  the  Feast  of  the  Lord’s Baptism.

As  all  early  indications  are  that  this  Jesus truly is the word made flesh who is the divine  light  of  the  world  then  all  the  more reason we have kept our lights lit until the true Christmas Season comes to its rightful conclusion.

As for our creches, our true catholic tradition as attested to by the custom at Vatican City  is  to  keep  these  up  for  40  days  after
the  Nativity  which  brings  us  to  the  Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd.

Let  us  keep  Christ  in  Christmas  by  keeping Christmas in accord with the Church’s calendar rather than the civil or the commercial one!

Saturday, December 31, 2016


On Christmas Eve Father Healey made available to all parishioners copies of a donated CD entitled: “The Seven Pillars of Catholic Spirituality” by Matthew Kelly.   At first I thought the CD was of a book I had read, but on checking, I was mistaken.  Mine was “Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changes the World and Can Change It Again.”  

The Seven Pillars spoke of confession, daily prayer, Mass, scripture, spiritual reading, fasting, and the rosary as ways to regain and strengthen Catholicism.  Kelly believes these seven create the pillars on which Catholicism stands.

Although I don’t discount the importance of these seven, I suggest there are seven other pillars, perhaps even stronger for effective evangelization.  They would be: knowing and following Jesus; ministering to the poor and needy (charity); an emphasis on forgiveness; the sacraments; our culture of life; an emphasis on family and its holiness; and faith/hope/love.   I’ll add an eighth – understanding/respect for other faiths (ecumenism).   

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hug And Love Them

“God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother.  Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children, and, when he prays, is heard.  Whoever reveres his father will live a long life; he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives.  Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him; revile him not all the days of his life; kindness to a father will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt of your sins—a house raised in justice to you.”
[Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14]

Today is “The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.”  The above passage refers to reverence of mothers and fathers with the second part targeting fathers.   For many fathers the question becomes: do you deserve to be revered or reviled?  How many fathers slip away from family at the expense of their sons (and wives and daughters)?   How much time has been invested in their welfare?  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Let There Be Light

“Beloved: The way we may be sure that we know Jesus is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. And yet I do write a new commandment to you, which holds true in him and among you, for the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.  Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

This is a powerful statement from John in his first letter (1 John 2:3-11).  It’s the perfect message for the beginning of the New Year.   First, we’re told to walk with Jesus, i.e., “to walk just as he walked.”  We are told to “know him,” and we do this by keeping his commandments.  Otherwise, we are “liars” saying we know him when truly we do not.   Sitting in Church every Sunday, can we truthfully say we know him, or are we liars, according to John and his strong and stinging words.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rachel's Weeping

“When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’ Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.  He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’ 

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious.  He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.  Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.”
[Matthew 2:13-18]

We know the story of the magi and the murdered Bethlehem children, but do we know about Ramah and Rachel mentioned by Jeremiah in his prophecy on which the Bethlehem massacre was based?  For most of us, probably not.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fellowships Of Beloveds

"Beloved: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life—for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We are writing this so that our joy may be complete [1 John 1:1-4].”

Our first reading on this second day after Christmas highlights “the beginning.”   For many of us Christmas marks the beginning of a new year and another notch in our life’s calendar as we get closer to eternal life.  

For most of us eternal life is a difficult concept, and most would rather have daily life experienced with family and friends, especially during the Christmas season.   I’m one of those willing to
postpone eternal life, although I suppose that runs counter to hope. 

Not really.   A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.   In other words, let’s experience and enjoy life with what we have now: the beauty of a sunrise; the smile and touch of a loved one; deep breaths of cold and frosty air; laughter; and even the challenges of life that make us stronger and more appreciative of good times and health.    

Monday, December 26, 2016

They Make Us Smile

At the time baby Jesus was born many years ago all the people, the animals, and the trees were very happy.   Baby Jesus was born to bring peace and happiness to the whole world.  People came every day to see the little one and to bring him gifts.

Now, there were five trees standing near the manger.   They saw the people, and they wished they also could give gifts to Baby Jesus that everyone called the Christ-child.

The Palm tree said, “I will choose my most beautiful leaf and then place it as a fan over Baby Jesus’ head to keep him out of the hot sun and to cool him.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas is for Children?

Often we hear this said and what it implies is that there is perhaps little magic in terms of anticipation and surprise in Christmas for adults.  While that may well be true yet let us not say that there isn't a good deal of meaning in Christmas for adults especially when we move beyond some of the more cultural and less religious customs and observances of this day and season.  Indeed, Santa Claus and jingle bells aside, what is Christmas but a time to deepen our -appreciation of the great mystery of the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh, coming to dwell among us.   The Incarnation reminds us that there is nothing in our human experience except sin that is unfamiliar to God, for in Jesus the Christ, God has lived and died much as we do.  Thus Christmas is about Emmanuel, God with us, knowing our human joys and especially experiencing our sufferings and our sorrows.   Thus Christmas is not only for children, it is for adults and especially those who are presently suffering in any way or mourning the loss of loved ones for its message is one of divine solidarity with us.  The true Christmas tidings of "comfort and joy” are that we are never alone no matter what we may face, for in Christ, God has been there too, so as to accompany us with empathy and compassion.   We certainly hope that all children can and will enjoy Christmas in a special way with all its potential wonder and magic.  However, faced with the contemporary tendency to redefine Christmas so as to make it everyone's holiday rather than a distinctly Christian feast and season, our greatest and most prayerful wish must be that those for whom Christmas is truly intended will not feel left out and even more alone.   Rather, may the truth of the incarnation that God who took on human flesh is very close to the broken hearted, bring them the peace and joy He intends for all his children no matter their age to enjoy.

Fr. Edward Healey

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Tis Week Before Christmas

Tis the week before Christmas and all through the house every creature is stirring including the mouse.  The manger is placed near the chimney with care, in hopes baby Jesus soon will lay there.

The children are nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of shepherds dance in their heads. The hearth hangs three stockings of peace, hope and love, over which there flies a snow-white dove.

And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, have just settled our brains for a long night’s nap. When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, we sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.