As Memorial Day comes upon us, we pause to remember those who have given of themselves to defend the freedoms that we enjoy. So many times they are taken for granted, in this country.
We thank our Veterans this Memorial Day. Let us never forget the causes for which they fought. What they gave of themselves, especially those who gave their all, their very lives, the true price of freedom that we all enjoy. Just as our Savior gave his very life to free us from the oppression of sin.
Our Lord said; “The greatest love one can have, is to lay down his life for his friends.” That is what our Lord did for all of us.
There is a beautiful poem by Lawrence Binyon which states; “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”
We ask our Lord to bless those who left this soil, to serve their country in wartime, and in peace. May our Lord Jesus always walk with those who did not return. To my fellow veterans, to all who served and are serving, may God Bless you. May we have the courage to stand up for the freedoms we enjoy.
The Gospel message for the third week of Lent, is referred to as the “Last Gospel,” for it talks about how we are battered in life. We are scarred and damaged by our sins. Yet, we find that each and every day of our lives the good Lord gives us that second chance to experience “Metanoia” that change to our heart and soul. We are given that second chance by the touch of the “Master’s Hand.”
Every year now for the past several years, myself and other Deacons from the area, minister to the inmates at the local county jail. This is a very humbling experience. I would like to repeat a story of one inmate who found these two-hour visits to be the turning point in his life. I will call this inmate Mike, who we met, while in jail, a couple of years ago. It was a few months ago that I was approached by a young man who stated he was Mike, the one who we visited in jail, and he thanked me profusely for talking to him about turning one’s life around to Jesus. Mike was able to go back to that fork in the road that led him down a life of addiction and crime. He saw the narrow path, the path that put Jesus number one in his life.
Mike overcame his addictions, was forgiven, and did his time, the consequences for his actions. Since that time Mike met a beautiful young lady and now is making a life together with her, and their newborn daughter. The “Metanoia” in Mike’s life, his change, is apparent as I have talked to him now several times, to the point where once he goes through the necessary procedures, will join us in our jail ministry group. Mike will be able to empathize with the inmates, for he has walked the walk. Now he can talk the talk of one who found Jesus in his life. Please pray for Mike as he must stay focused on the light of truth. For in life’s difficulties it can be so easy to revert back to the wider path of the world.
Lent is that season that we are reminded of second chances, of the one who loved us first. A season where we strive to cultivate our own lives with the truth of the Cross.
I repeat again the beautiful poem that states; Is anybody happier because you passed his way? Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today? The day is almost over, and its toiling time is through; Is there anyone to utter a kindly word of you? Do you give a cheerful greeting to the friend who came along? Or a rude sort of “Howdy” and then vanish in the throng? Were you selfish pure and simple as you rushed along the way, or is someone mighty grateful for a deed you did today? Do you say tonight in parting with the day that is slipping fast, that you helped a single brother of the many that you passed? Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said; does a man whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead? Did you waste the day or lose it, was it well or sorely spent? Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent? As you close your eyes in slumber do you think that God would say, YOU HAVE EARNED ONE MORE TOMORROW BY THE WORK YOU DID TODAY?
Through our own baptism we become children of God, we share in the inheritance promised to us, by a loving God. In baptism we die with Christ, and through his Resurrection, we will rise with him. As children of God we are all very unique. There is only one of us, and so it is at the end of our lives. We all share, with each other, our lives here on earth. Yet at the end of our life, we all will be called back to the very person who made us. That moment in our lives is also very unique, exclusive to the person who God is calling back to himself, back home. We all experience in our lives the loss of a loved one, be it a spouse, a parent, a grandmother, or grandfather, brother, sister, and so on, and we will feel loss in our lives. There are times when we feel what a verse of a song says; “Just when you think you need someone, there is someone else who needs you.”
This is where a program that we will be starting here at Our Lady Queen of Heaven comes in. That program is called “Grief Share.” Those who have felt a loss in the family, and just need additional help in coping with the loss, can come together to share with others who have also felt, experienced a loss in their lives.
There are two Christian-based programs that we will be introducing. The first one is a one-time, one-day program, that is specifically for those who have lost their spouse. When someone loses a spouse, they feel like their heart is melting, they are many times looking for the answer to their “why?” The other program is a 13 week series of videos, and talks. Being able to talk to others who are going through exactly what you are going through can be very helpful. It is in sharing this experience that we are helping not only ourselves, but as importantly helping our neighbor, part of our human family.
Please watch the bulletin and watch for pamphlets, and posters, announcing when this will begin. We will start with the one-day seminar on “The Loss of a Spouse.” We must always remember that the grief you feel in the loss of your loved one, will always be equal to the love you gave them in life.
We are compiling a list again of all the servers who gave of themselves, by ministering at the altar, at daily and Sunday Mass. The delay over the last 18 months or so, of having servers at the altar, has left a void of who is still available, and willing to serve at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church. If you have served, or are interested in this beautiful ministry, please place your name and a contact number on a list by my office in the gathering area.
I will be sending out a letter to all past servers, but I do want to make sure all are contacted, so please sign up, even if you have served in the past. Again those who have a desire to serve, please put your name and contact number on the list, and thank you for your consideration. We have several adult male servers, but we are always looking for those men who might be able to help serve at some of the daily Masses, but also at some Sunday Masses, funerals, etc. Please place your name and contact information on the list next to my office. Thank you for your consideration.
Our Lady Queen of Heaven has had a men’s group for quite a few years, but we are looking for new members. The mission of the men’s group is to take a look at different projects that come up around the parish, and then utilize the talents of our members to help with repair or general maintenance. We write down a list of those things that are in need of repair, or maintenance, and the men can come in, and do a specific task, at their leisure, and according to what they feel comfortable with.
Please think about this rewarding ministry, and if you can help, please make contact with Deacon Tom, or just leave a note for me and I will be happy to contact you. Thank you and God Bless.
The greatest gift we can give this Christmas, is Christ himself. The beautiful gift of the Lord himself in the Eucharist; the beautiful gift of the Lord through the ministry of our witness to others, by the way we live our lives. I would like to repeat a story that I read for a homily just a few years ago, it is one of my favorites and I hope it becomes one of yours.
There is a beautiful story about a local school that would be holding their annual production of the “Nativity Play,” and also about a kid named Wally, who was nine years old, at the time, and in the second grade, due to the fact that he had challenges that made it difficult for him to keep up with the other children. Wally was that type of kid, bigger than the other kids, but well-liked. Wally was very excited to be part of the Christmas play that year; for he was to play the innkeeper. The play’s director liked Wally and wanted him to be a part of the play, and yet be able to remember his lines, so with Wally playing the innkeeper, she would be able to stand behind the door of the set, and prompt him if necessary.
On the night of the Nativity play, everything was going just as rehearsed, when it came time for Joseph to appear at the Inn. Joseph slowly, and tenderly guided Mary to the door of the Inn, knocked on the door, and it was then that Wally appeared saying; “What do you want?” “We seek lodging,” Joseph said, and Wally right on cue said; “Seek it elsewhere, the Inn is filled.” Joseph spoke again, “Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain, we have come far and are very tired, and again Wally hit his cue, and sternly said; “There is no room in this Inn for you.”
Joseph then said; “Please, this is my wife Mary, who is heavy with child, and needs a place to rest, there must be some small corner for her, please, she is so tired.” This time there was silence and the prompter had to tell Wally to say the words, “Be gone there is no room.” Wally was quick to repeat it; “Be gone there is no room.”
It was then that Joseph, on cue, placed his arm around Mary and with her head on his shoulder, the two of them started to walk away. It was then that people began to notice that Wally had not gone back into the Inn, but instead was watching now with a distant look on his face. Those present saw his mouth open, and his eyes full of tears, and it was then that the “Nativity Story,” this pageant would be different from the others, for it was then that Wally called out to Joseph; “Don’t go, Joseph, bring Mary back, and then his face grew into a bright smile, when he said; YOU CAN HAVE MY ROOM.”
This is what Christmas is all about, not only seeing Christ in others, but a willingness to make room for Christ, in our hearts. From my family to yours, may you have a Blessed, and Merry Christmas.
As we are about to enter a new liturgical year of the Church, and the Advent season, I want to thank my extended family, Our Lady Queen of Heaven parish, for welcoming me as your deacon for now, just over three years.
The fourth Sunday of November, this year, is the Feast of Christ the King, and the last Sunday of Liturgical Year B. The following Sunday, November 28th, we begin the new Liturgical Year, which is Year C, and the first week of Advent. The Sunday Lectionary, follows a cycle of readings, A, B, and C, following the first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, of which the Gospel of that specific year has the main focus. We leave the year of Mark, Year B, and now enter the year of Luke, Year C. The Gospel of John is read all three years of the cycle, during Christmas, Lent, and the Easter Season. The weekday Lectionary is made up of Years I and II: Year I for the odd years and Year II for the even years. Since we will be entering the year 2022, which is an even year, we use the weekday Lectionary for Year II. The beauty of the cycle of years, in both the Sunday Lectionary and weekday Lectionary, is that we are given quite a lot of the Bible in a three-year period.
As we enter the year of the Gospel of Luke, we are reminded that Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles and was a follower of Saint Paul. His main audience, at the time of this Gospel writing, were the Christian gentiles, the non-Jews. It is in those writings at the time, that we hear that Luke was a physician, and like Paul, he could have been, very well, a Jew himself.
Many enjoy the Gospel according to Luke, because of his skill as a writer, and the beauty of all of us getting more of his Gospel writing in the sequel that he writes, which, of course, is the Acts of the Apostles. As we near entering the new liturgical year, Year C, we will hear in the Gospel according to Luke, the infancy narrative, the Christmas story, the birth of our Savior, our Redeemer—Jesus Christ.
In the Gospel reading for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we not only hear, but see what faith looks like. This is the story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, who Jesus encounters, on the way to Jerusalem, where Jesus will be ultimately crucified.
Bartimaeus, blind from birth, and considered by most to be on the low end of society, was destined to sit by the side of the road, and beg for his basic needs in life. Bartimaeus had a garment, one that he used during the day to gather what people would toss his way, and as a shelter from the cold of the night. Being blind, his newspaper—his social media—was the information that his attuned ears could gather from those who passed by, and this is how he came to know about Jesus, the Nazorean.
As Jesus was passing by, Bartimaeus heard and asked who it was? Finding out it was Jesus, Bartimaeus yells out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” The apostles, disciples, the people attempt to silence Bartimaeus; not to bother Jesus with those on the periphery of society. Jesus teaches all of them a lesson, as he allows Bartimaeus to call out again and then calls Bartimaeus to himself. The disciples of Jesus are now going to the one on the fringe and telling Bartimaeus, “The Master is calling you.” They become the servant to the one on the fringe, on the low end of society.
The most important part of this reading happens at this moment when we hear that Bartimaeus throws off his garment, something that contains everything he owns in life, his very means of staying alive, and goes to Jesus. When asked “What do you want from me?” Instead of asking for wealth, so that others could serve him, he lays out a simple act of faith saying, “Lord, that I might see.”
Bartimaeus wanted physical sight, but Jesus also saw what was in his heart, and that was spiritual sight, the sight that enabled him to discard all he had in life to follow Jesus. What do our garments look like? Are we so much a part of the world that we become spiritually blind? Are we willing to discard our garments of this world, put on the garment, the armor of Christ, and truly see the truth?
Jesus is calling all of us to be like Bartimaeus, to recognize with spiritual sight those around us, especially the unborn, the homeless, the homebound, the marginalized. Let us all together walk toward the spiritual light of Truth, lighting our way, lighting our life.
In Catholic churches, since ancient times, stained glass windows have told stories for those who could not read. In the early church the priest would read from the Bible to the masses, and then with the onset of the stained glass windows, the stories from the Bible would come alive. As in most stained glass windows, each would depict a specific time in Jesus' life, the parables, the disciples, and of course there are many depicting our Blessed Mother Mary, along with the sacraments and saints of the Church.
When the idea of updating our inside windows of the church to the stained glass film, we were pleasantly surprised at the outpouring of support for this project. In a short period, all the monies needed were donated, and the new frames were constructed, the old frames and inside windows were taken out, and the new tempered glass ordered along with the stained glass film.
You can see the inside of the church is complete, and it looks beautiful, with 13 inside windows complete, and five more on order. The five will be placed on each side of the main entrance doors, with one more going over by the gathering area. We would like to thank all the men who helped place the film onto the tempered glass, along then with placing them into the new framework in less all of you who donated to help our church tell a story.