Announcements / News

From the Pastor November 13, 2016


 

33rd Sunday in

Ordinary Time – C

 

November is the Month of All Souls; it starts with All Saints Day on which we honor all those now in heaven, followed by All Souls’ Day, which reminds us to pray for the dead who have yet to enter heaven. Although we do not know the details of how God works out our eternal salvation, we know that since each Christian has a part in accepting God’s gifts of grace for themselves and others now on earth, we must also have a role in helping those who have died. In that spirit, I offer my reflections on the Church’s Solemn Blessing used at Celebrations for the Dead.

 

 

Solemn Blessing – Celebrations for the Dead

 

May the God of all consolation bless you,

for in his unfathomable goodness he created the human race, and in the Resurrection of his Only Begotten Son he has given believers the hope of rising again. Amen. [1]

 

To us who are alive, may God grant

pardon for our sins, and to all the dead,

a place of light and peace. Amen. [2]

 

So may we all live happily for ever with Christ,

whom we believe truly rose from the dead. Amen. [3]

 

And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit, come down on you and remain with you for ever.
Amen.

 

 

[1]
GOD: OUR CREATOR & REDEEMER.

As the Book of Genesis reminds us, God created the human race out of love, and entrusted all things to us, to be used
ONLY according to God’s plan and purpose. However, it was, as the Bible attests, a stewardship we could not handle; and by our misuse of God’s gifts we brought sin and death into the world. However, as soon as we fell out of grace and into sin, God quickly promised to redeem us from sin and death. In the quest to conquer evil, God said He would put ‘enmity’ between the offspring of the serpent who connived our First Parents into sinning – and the offspring of ‘the woman’ who would defeat the devil. Christians believe that battle was won, once and for all, by Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, yet true God.

 

Having conquered sin and death, Christ now shares His victory with all who suffer and die as He suffered and died. And therein lies our hope: “If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” [Romans 6:8]
So in the first part of this triple blessing we recall how God, the giver of life, gave us the means to be restored to life, even after death!

 

[2] GOD HOLDS EVERYONE IN HIS HANDS. In part two of this triple blessing we ask God to give ALL His children what they need most. To us who are alive, we beseech God’s pardon and peace for our failings. And to those who have preceded us through death’s door into the next world, we ask the Lord to fulfill the priestly blessing first imparted by Aaron, the brother of Moses: “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!” [Numbers 6:24-26]

 

[3] WE WILL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER WITH JESUS. It may seem like a fairy tale ending, but it is the Gospel truth; here is how Saint Paul said it: “When this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Corinthians 15:54-57]

 

So, while we must all bid farewell to our loved ones – and must one day face – and endure – death ourselves, death does NOT have the final word! Jesus Christ, the Word of God, has the final word – and His Word is LIFE: a LIFE that will never end; a LIFE that will conquer every form of darkness, even the darkness of the tomb! For Christ’s “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!” [John 1:5] And so we ask the Lord to bring all our beloved dead – and all who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up their life for their God and/or their Country, into the never ending light of heaven. May they rest in peace. Amen.

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor October 30, 2016



31st Sunday in

Ordinary Time – C

 

My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory
Memorial and full set of orations
[Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion]
is on Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop,
whose Feast Day is November 4.
Born on October 2, 1538 to
Gilbert Borromeo, a wealthy Count, and Margaret of the powerful Medici family, young Charles had the political connections needed for an easy life. But when his uncle became Pope Pius IV, Saint Charles’ call to be a Priest was ‘complicated’ by what some called ‘special
treatment.’

 

Admittedly, his Uncle Giovanni, aka Pope Pius IV, did make him the Vatican’s Secretary of State, a Cardinal and the Archdiocese of Milan’s Administrator – even before Saint
Charles was ordained a Priest on September 4, 1563 … and made him a Bishop just 94 DAYS later, on December 7, when he was just 25 years old. However, as his orations suggest, Saint Charles did not let power or position, family wealth or prestige, go to his head!

 

Collect – Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop

 

Preserve in the midst of your people, we ask,

O Lord, the spirit with which you filled the Bishop Saint Charles Borromeo, that your Church may be constantly renewed and,

by conforming herself to the likeness of Christ,

may show his face to the world.

Who lives and reigns … for ever and ever. Amen.

 

WE MUST BE CONSTANTLY RENEWED.

The Church in Saint Charles’
time was in sad shape; the hierarchy was often corrupt; clergy were uncommitted; most people knew little dogma; liturgical abuses were rampant. Protestantism rightly called for renewal, but ‘threw out the baby with the bath water’ and was also often politically motivated. As a Cardinal and Bishop, Saint Charles sought to implement the Council of Trent’s ‘new’ reforms: he mandated seminary formation; established ‘Confraternities of Christian Doctrine’ [CCD] to teach the Faith to children; convened synods to correct abuses and promote liturgical changes; helped compose the breviary [the daily prayers said by the ordained] – among many other things!

 

But his reforms were met with ridicule or outright rebellion from Priests and some brother Bishops; and even some Popes tried to ‘derail him!’ In art, he holds a crucifix because a Priest tried to shoot him, but the bullet ricocheted off the crucifix, sparing Charles’ life! Though often viciously oppressed, he calmly, gently sought to win over his enemies; he even forgave the Priest who shot him and those who tried to stab him to death. When we dislike a liturgical change or Church policy, may we be a bit more ‘Christian!’

 

Prayer over the Offerings – Saint Charles Borromeo

 

Look, O Lord, upon the offering placed on your altar in commemoration of Saint Charles,

and grant by the power of this sacrifice

that, as you made him an attentive pastor,

outstanding in the merit of his virtues, so you may make us abound in good fruit by our works.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

ATTENTIVE PASTORS.

The Church has only one Pastor: the Pope; a Diocese has only one Bishop; a Parish has only one Pastor [don’t forget it!
J
]; but each Christian must ‘pastor’ whatever flock God entrusts to him or her. This is a solemn duty for Parents and Catechists who MUST be attentive to and supportive of those God may be calling to a religious vocation. On his Feast Day, ask Saint Charles, Patron of Seminarians – with whom he is also often depicted – to help you ‘find’ new Priests and Deacons, Sisters and Brothers.

 

Prayer after Communion – Saint Charles Borromeo

 

May the sacred mysteries of which we

have partaken, O Lord, we pray, give us

that determination which made Saint Charles

faithful in ministry and fervent in charity.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

PRAYERFUL CHARITY.

Despite all his ‘church’ work, Charles
made time for and generously gave to the poor. When a plague decimated his Diocese, he marched – barefoot, with a rope around his neck – in a public penitential act to beseech divine healing. While such acts are no longer practiced, what do we do for penance? Saint Charles Borromeo, pray for us.

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor September 13, 2015


24th Sunday in

Ordinary Time – B

 

In week 13 of my summer sacred study series on the 4 Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs [EPFVN], which is one EP with 4 themes, we reflect on the special intentions particular to EPFVN-IV: Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good. These inserts are added after the anamnesis [remember], offering, epiclesis [calling down the Holy Spirit on those entering into Holy Communion] and before we remember the dead and the Saints.

 

 

EPFVN – IV: Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good

Special Intentions

 

The Priest, with hands extended, says:

 

Bring your Church, O Lord,

    to perfect faith and charity, together

        with N. our Pope and N. our Bishop,

            with all Bishops, Priests and Deacons,

                and the entire people

                    you have made your own.

Open our eyes to the needs

    of our brothers and sisters;

        inspire in us words and actions to comfort

            those who labor and are burdened.

Make us serve them truly, after the

    example of Christ and at his command.

And may your Church stand as a living witness

    to truth and freedom, to peace and justice,

        that all people may be raised up

            to a new hope.

 

 

Perfect Faith & Charity.
In one of our Lord’s most daunting challenges He said, “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48] The first special petition in this EP asks God to ‘bring’ us closer to this goal with the help of His grace. For God never lowers the bar; rather, He forgives those who seek His pardon and peace when they fail, which enables them to learn from their mistakes. However, as the rest of this first petition reminds us: we are not merely in a teacher/student relationship with the Lord; we are bonded to God by a design of His own making, which we reflect on next.

 

We Are God’s Own People. As God’s children through baptismal adoption, we are forged to the Lord in a loving parent/child relationship. This has radical implications for our dealings with one another – in this life and the next. For God will ask us what He asked Cain: “What have you done to Abel … where is your brother? And
when Cain smugly retorted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” the Lord exacted a dreadful punishment on Cain for disrespecting his brother’s life. [C.f. Genesis 4:9-12] God will hold us equally responsible for our brothers and sisters – if we do not respect and care for their life.

 

“Lord, I want to see.” Before Jesus cured a blind man He asked the man what I always thought was rhetorical – if not downright silly – question: “What do you want me to do for you?” to
which
the
blind
man
replied, “Master, I want to see.” [C.f. Mark 10:51] But when you think about it, do we really always want to see and hear? Do we not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to those in need? Don’t we often ‘keep our mouth shut’ – as well as our wallets and bank accounts – rather than get involved in the wellbeing of all in need? This leads to the next petition about …

 

Christ’s EXAMPLE and COMMAND. Jesus not only TOLD us what to do and how to do it … He SHOWED us how to be channels of His loving compassion and healing touch. So when we ‘comfort those who labor and are burdened,’ we are not simply doing ‘a nice thing’ … we are fulfilling a divine commandment!

 

We Must Be Living Witnesses to a New Hope. As Jesus said, “all will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” [John 13:35] Here’s a recap of what a 2nd Century letter, written by a pagan to a Roman authority, said about Christians back then: “They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through … play a full role as citizens, but their [earthly] homeland is a foreign country … they marry and have children, but do not expose them … share meals, but not their wives … live in the flesh, but are not governed by the desires of the flesh … obey laws, but live on a level that transcends the law.”

 

Would people in OUR time say the same of us? Can we truly sing that vintage Native American sounding tune, still found in our hymnals, ‘They’ll Know We Are Christians’ … by OUR love IN ACTION for each other and for all God’s people?

 

        In His holy Name,

 

 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin

From the Pastor October 9, 2016


 

28th Sunday in

Ordinary Time – C

 

My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory
Memorial and full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion]
is on Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, whose Feast Day is October 15. Also known as Saint Therésè
[not Saint Therésè of the Child Jesus, the ‘Little Flower,’ whose Feast Day is October 1] she lived in very tumultuous, challenging times.

 

She was born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515, just two decades after Columbus ‘discovered’ America and two years after Martin Luther ‘started’ the Protestant Reformation. She died on October 4, 1582, just two decades after the Council of Trent’s reform of Catholicism and response to the Reformer’s heretical errors. [Due to Pope Gregory XII’s calendar reform in 1582, in which 10 days were ‘lost,’ Saint Teresa’s
death date and Feast Day are now reckoned as being on October 15.] Here are Saint Teresa’s orations, which explain why her artistic symbols are a heart, an arrow, and a book – and why she is patron of all who suffer from headaches!

 

Collect – Saint Teresa of Jesus

 

O God, who through your Spirit

raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus to

show the Church the way to seek perfection,

grant that we may always be nourished

by the food of her heavenly teaching

and fired with longing for true holiness.

Through our Lord … for ever and ever. Amen.

 

THE WAY OF PERFECTION.
At first, the future Saint Teresa
was no saint; like her mother, she loved reading romantic novels – which her pious, strict father forbid. She was also so lustful for boys and clothes, flirtatious and rebellious, that her dad put her in a convent – where she found little peace. For back then, convents overflowed with wayward girls who had NO vocation – but parents who wanted them far from worldly sins – which sadly permeated convent life! Although she put her whole heart into her Religious Life, her greatest struggle was with – of all things – prayer – yet she persevered and reaped the fruits of the spiritual life. She documented her challenging journey of faith in numerous books; one entitled “The Way of Perfection,” still helps countless seekers; thus, she is depicted with a book. The Church has declared only 36 Saints a ‘Doctor of the Church’ or highly intellectual educator; in 1970 she became one of four female ‘Doctors’ along with Saint Catherine of Siena [by Pope Paul VI in 1970], Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
[by Saint John Paul in1997], and Saint
Hildegard of Bingen
[by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.]

 

Prayer over the Offerings – Saint Teresa of Jesus

 

May our offerings, O Lord, be acceptable to your majesty, to whom the devoted service of Saint Teresa was pleasing in such great measure.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

DON’T BE HALF-HEARTED.
Like many Saints – and Jesus – Saint Teresa
was no stranger to misunderstandings, misjudgment or opposition – even from Church leaders and her confreres! She suffered from emotional and psychological, physical and spiritual ailments: malaria, seizures, unanswered prayers, annoying distractions and other trials. Yet she put her whole heart
into trying to reform the Church and living the ideals of Religious Life. One time she was so sick, they dug her grave! No wonder she’s depicted with an arrow and is the patron of those with headaches.
In her most famous statement, as she questioned God about all the woes she endured, she quipped: “If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!”

 

Prayer after Communion – Saint Teresa of Jesus

 

Grant, O Lord our God,

that your obedient family,

whom you have fed with the Bread of heaven,

may follow the example of Saint Teresa and rejoice to sing of your mercies for all eternity.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

LET NOTHING FRIGHTEN YOU.

One way to honor Saint Teresa
is to memorize a poem she composed and recite it daily, especially after receiving our Lord in Holy Communion: “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things; Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.” What a great woman! Saint Teresa of Jesus, pray for us!

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor September 25, 2016

 

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

 

Saints Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, Archangels – September 29

 

My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory
Memorial
or Feast
and full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion]
is on Saints Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, Archangels, whose Feast Day is September 29. How can ‘Angels’
be ‘Saints’
if a Saint is a human being, who once lived on earth, and is now living in heaven? The Latin word ‘Sancta’
– which gives us the word ‘Saint’
simply means ‘holy.’
It has been used by Catholics as the honorific title for all who are in heaven with God, whether they once lived on earth or were always part of that invisible ‘other’ world in ‘heaven.’ So we rightly use the term ‘Sancta’
for Angels, ordinary humans who are in heaven, and even for our Blessed Mother.

 

Did you know not all angels are Saints; we call fallen or bad angels demons or devils. And did you know that the Archangels and many Saints, like the Apostles and our Blessed Mother, were never officially canonized by the Church? Popes have been officially canonizing a Saint for ‘only’ 1,000 years; before that, Saints were declared by popular acclamation or widespread veneration. Here are the orations for Saints Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, Archangels
whose highly symbolic names are not even mentioned in their orations!

 

Collect – Sts. Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, Archangels

 

O God, who dispose in marvelous order ministries both angelic and human,

graciously grant that our life on earth

may be defended by those who watch over us

as they minister perpetually to you in heaven.

Through our Lord … for ever and ever. Amen.

 

OUR DEFENDING MINISTERS.
In God’s awesome plan, we are never alone; while our surest defense and main intercessor is Jesus Christ, God makes it a communal effort, high and low. Saint Michael, whose name means ‘who is like God,’ defends us from evil. Saint Gabriel, whose name means ‘hero of God,’ is entrusted with the most important divine messages; he announced the conception and birth of both John the Baptist and Jesus. Saint Raphael, whose name means, ‘God has healed,’
is sent to cure humans of all that ails us. It is he who tells us, “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord.”
[Tobit 12:15]
From non-biblical, and thus non-canonical sources [which means we are free to accept or reject them] we learn the names of the other four Archangels: Uriel, Raguel, Sariel
and Jerahmeel.

 

Prayer over the Offerings – Archangels

 

We offer you a sacrifice of praise, O Lord, humbly entreating, that, as these gifts

are borne by the ministry of Angels

into the presence of your majesty,

so you may receive them favorably

and make them profitable for our salvation.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

ANGELS WORSHIP WITH US.
At every Mass, each Preface ends by leading us into the song the Bible says is constantly sung in heaven. It usually goes like this: “… so we join the Angels and Saints in their unending hymn … as we proclaim: then we paraphrase that heavenly hymn: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!” [Isaiah 6:3]
And in Eucharistic Prayer I we say: “In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty, so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.”
So Angels worship with us, and as the next oration states, they also protect and watch over us. Saints Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, pray for us.

 

Prayer after Communion – Archangels

 

Having been nourished with heavenly Bread,

we beseech you humbly, O Lord, that,

drawing from it new strength, under the

faithful protection of your Angels, we may advance boldly along the way of salvation.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor September 18, 2016



25th Sunday in

Ordinary Time – C

 

My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory Memorial or Feast
and full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion]
is on Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, observed on September 21. As one of the four Gospel writers, his artistic symbols are the quill
or ‘pen’
he may have once used to keep records of the taxes he collected for Rome, and/or a scroll
or book. He is also depicted with either a winged man
[see below] or angel
for one reason.

 

Only Saint Matthew records how God revealed His will to Saint Joseph in his dreams via an angel. His angelic dreamtime visitor told Joseph: the manner of Christ’s conception by the Holy Spirit; the name he was to give his foster son; the virginity of his pregnant, future wife; the Holy Family’s need to be exiles in Egypt and the ability to return to Israel after King Herod’s death. Here are the orations for Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

 

Collect – Saint Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist

 

O God, who with untold mercy

were pleased to choose as an Apostle

Saint Matthew, the tax collector, grant that,

sustained by his example and intercession,

we may merit to hold firm in following you.

Through our Lord … for ever and ever. Amen.

 

CHRIST CAME TO CALL SINNERS.
We often hear these words in the Penitential Act, but do we realize how shocking they are: that Christ calls sinners – even a tax collector – to minister in His Church and be Saints? To put Christ’s call of Saint Matthew to be an Apostle in perspective, imagine hearing that a new Bishop had once been a corrupt politician, money launderer for a drug cartel, unscrupulous bounty hunter or used car salesman! In Saint Matthew’s day, those who conspired with Rome, ‘the enemy’ by collecting taxes for Caesar from their fellow Jews whose nation was under Roman rule, were considered traitors, heretics and the worst of sinners … akin to prostitutes … whom Jesus also called to follow Him! So fear not, fellow sinners … there’s room and a warm welcome from Jesus for all of us …who repent as did Saint Matthew!

 

Prayer over the Offerings – Saint Matthew

 

As we celebrate anew the memory of

Saint Matthew, we bring you

sacrifices and prayers, O Lord,

humbly imploring you to look kindly

on your Church, whose faith you have nourished by the preaching of the Apostles.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

HUMAN REASON + DIVINE REVELATION.
Saint Matthew’s symbol as a winged man shows we can only come to know and understand God’s will IF we infuse our human ability
to think and reason with divine revelation. Saint Matthew directly quotes or refers to more Old Testament passages than any other evangelist. He did this to show how God prepared us to recognize and accept the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ, and understand and live by His teachings. The Catholic Church follows this principle to keep all her dogmas and rituals, teachings and practices, firmly based on God’s holy word. Some ways to honor Saint Matthew is to commit ourselves to learn more about God’s word by joining a Bible Study, taking part in Adult Faith Formation, logging onto Catholic websites, reading our Bible and Catechism, etc.

 

Prayer after Communion – Saint Matthew

 

Sharing in that saving joy, O Lord, with which Saint Matthew welcomed the Savior

as a guest in his home, we pray:

grant that we may always be renewed

by the food we receive from Christ, who came

to call not the just, but sinners to salvation.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

DO YOU LET JESUS IN YOUR HOME?

The turning point of Saint Matthew’s life was when he welcomed Jesus into his home, served our Lord dinner, confessed his sins, and heeded Christ’s advice. So while it is of the upmost importance that we come to Mass each week to receive Christ’s Real Pre
sence in the Eucharist, we must then bring Christ home with us, to work and play with us, to visit with us in all we say and do. Then perhaps, through us, more sinners like us will repent and be saved. Saint Matthew the Apostle, pray for us!

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS


 

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

 

This past March we welcomed three new members into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil at SEAS.: Peter Russell, Steven Castella, and Louis Zwaan. Following are the reflections of Peter Russell and Steven Castella.

 

Reflection by Peter Russell

When I was told that I needed, as a part of the RCIA process, to state before the congregation why I wanted to become a member of the Catholic Church, the reason was immediately clear to me – I had been attending Mass with my wife for over 40 years, and I thought it was time to participate fully. That – to me – explained everything. But, I came to find as I went through the RCIA program, that what I had thought was the “reason” for everything, was actually nothing more than the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Once I decided to start the RCIA program, the question I posed to myself (which question was also posed to me by others) was – why now- why after all these years? And the simple answer is – I don’t know. I can point exactly to the date on which I decided to participate in the RCIA program, but why I never thought before of doing that is a complete mystery to me. I think, as Diane suggested to me, that I heard God calling to me, and I am grateful (more so than I ever thought possible) that He did, and that I heard Him.

Well, old habits die hard, and I was not at all sure that after 40 years I would be receptive to the teachings of the Catholic Church, let alone being able to master them. But, I need not have worried. Until I started the RCIA program, I truly had no idea as to how much I had been missing out on. I was amazed. In my mind, it was similar to the sensation I had had as a child when I suddenly realized that I had learned how to read – I realized then that all of the characters on the page formed words, and that I was able to understand those words, and most importantly, I was able to comprehend what the author was trying to say. The same sensation came over me as we started to RCIA lessons – all of a sudden, with the guidance of the RCIA team, the pieces came together, and things that had never made any sense to me now became perfectly clear. What a gift! It changed my life, and I can’t think of a single situation that I have ever encountered in my life where “Better late than never” would be more true.

God called to me to become a member of the Church, and now that I am a member, He has continued to speak to me, and to guide me, in ways too numerous to count. From life decisions, down to the most mundane of daily activities, I feel His presence like I never did before. The peace and the clarity I experience now are gifts beyond description – far beyond anything I had a right to even hope for. I pray that I can be a good person and a good Catholic – to fulfill the promise of what has been offered to me by joining the Church. I thank God for this blessing, and the many other blessings that have been bestowed upon me, especially my wife, whose patience with me is obviously infinite. God works in mysterious ways.

 

Reflection by Steven Castella

I was baptized Catholic as a baby. However, other than celebrating Christmas and Easter, I was essentially raised in a home empty of religion. It wasn’t until I met my wife, Amy, that faith started to become a part of my life. It was at this time that I began to attend Mass regularly. We would later marry in the Church and continue to attend Mass when our children were born. And although I was not a full member, I was fortunate enough to become exposed to the beauty of the Catholic Church.

However, as the years passed by and my daughters began attending Religious Formation, I realized that when it came to my faith, there was a void in my life that I needed to fill. And it was last fall, when my youngest daughter began her preparation to receive her First Communion, that I realized that I needed to do more than just simply attend Mass. This realization was important not only so that I could be an example for my daughters, but also for my own growth as a person. It was at this point, with Amy as my sponsor, that I committed to joining the RCIA program.

The RCIA program provided the knowledge I was looking for about the teachings of Christ and the Catholic faith. But I think even more importantly, it provided the spiritual growth I was looking for to fill the void in my life. And because I was fortunate enough to have my wife as my sponsor, it has strengthened my marriage. And now that I am a full member of the Catholic Church and can receive Eucharist with my daughters, I believe it will strengthen our family for years to come.

The way adults become

members of the Catholic Church!

 

Breaking Open the Word

The Rites of the RCIA ~ at the cathedral

 

…and at SEAS

The Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil

 

Baptism


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Confirmation

 


First Eucharist


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Newly Received and their Sponsors

From the Pastor September 11, 2016


24th Sunday in

Ordinary Time – C

 

 

My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory
Memorial and full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion]
is on Saint John Chrysostom,
whose Feast Day is September 13. Born in Antioch in 374; he died in Pontus in 407, and is known by his Greek nickname ‘Chrysostom’
which means ‘Golden mouth.’ His ‘wonderful eloquence’ in both preaching and teaching, for which his Collect extols him, earned him the honorific title ‘Doctor of the Church’ as in a doctorate or PhD in theological and scriptural studies.

 

Roman Catholics expect to see Bishops in Latin Rite or Western vesture: the pointy-hat miter, which is based on ancient Roman senatorial garb; but Greek or Eastern Rite Catholic bishops wear crowns, as seen above, not miters. They also wear stoles that crisscross their chest outside their robes, unlike the way we wear our stoles: underneath our chasuble. So you know if a Bishop is in the Latin or Greek, Western or Eastern Rite by their vesture and headgear! Here are Saint John Chrysostom’s orations:

 

Collect – Saint John Chrysostom

Bishop & Doctor of the Church

 

O God, strength of those who hope in you, who willed that the Bishop Saint John Chrysostom

should be illustrious by his wonderful eloquence

and his experience of suffering, grant us,

we pray, that, instructed by his teachings,

we may be strengthened through

the example of his invincible patience.

Through our Lord … for ever and ever. Amen.

 

ARE WE PROPERLY SCHOOLED?
Saint John Chrysostom was well educated in Greek philosophy and in the social, intellectual, and political issues of his time; nor was he a stranger to the heretical, erroneous mindsets of his day. So he was able to bring biblical and ecclesial or church dogma into every discussion or debate. He also firmly believed that the world’s Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Church that continues His mission, has what the world truly needs to solve its problems and advance in every worthy goal. He is thus our role model in dealing with – and trying to fix – our sin-sick, broken violent world!

Prayer over the Offerings – Saint John Chrysostom

 

May the sacrifice which we gladly present

in commemoration of Saint John Chrysostom

be pleasing to you, O God, for, taught by him,

we, too, give ourselves entirely to you in praise.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

DO WE GIVE OURSELVES TO THE LORD?
The future Saint made good use of all that the
secular world offered him, but he also sought spiritual guidance in religious
studies. He even lived as a reclusive hermit, far removed from worldly temptation and struggles; however, due to its rigors and strict demands, his venture into this intense form of monastic life was short-lived. But like many who – even in our own time – do a short stint in the Peace Corps or a similar organization, his ‘time away’ in ‘service’ was a life-changing, eye-opening experience!

 

What do we who claim to ‘serve the Lord’ do to give ourselves more fully to Jesus and His Church? Do we take time, or rather, MAKE time to learn more about our Faith, and to put our Faith into liturgical, social and communal action? Do we properly balance secular and religious, earthly and heavenly, every day and eternal needs and concerns?

 

Prayer after Communion – Saint John Chrysostom

 

Grant, O merciful God,

that these mysteries we have received

as we commemorate Saint John Chrysostom,

may confirm us in your love and enable us

to be faithful in confessing your truth.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

DO WE BRING OUR FAITH INTO DAILY LIFE? The best analogy I can think of what Saint John Chrysostom had to deal with in his Diocese is this: imagine being appointed Bishop of Hollywood where you’d have to challenge and confront the immoral, lavish, scandalous behavior of the rich and famous! That was the sad state of this Saint’s Diocese 1600 years ago, and it earned him enemies – outside and within the Church – who often tried to exile or murder him. If, as we confess the Faith, we face no liabilities or criticism, are we truly confessing our Faith? Saint John Chrysostom, pray for us!

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor September 4, 2016


23rd Sunday in

Ordinary Time – C

 

Labor Day Weekend

 

My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory Memorial or Feast and a full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings, Prayer after Communion]
is on The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
observed on September 8,
exactly nine months after she was immaculately conceived in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne, which we commemorate on December 8. While the Bible is silent as to her parents, her birth and younger years, sacred tradition portrays the one to whom the Angel said: “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” [C.f. Luke 1:28]
as a prayerful, humble child, born to faithful Jewish parents, later in life, who were totally unaware of the special grace God had given to their daughter, who was conceived without the stain of Original Sin.

 

Collect – The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Impart to your servants, we pray, O Lord,

the gift of heavenly grace, that the

feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin

may bring deeper peace to those for whom the birth of her Son was the dawning of salvation.

Through our Lord … for ever and ever. Amen.

 

THE ‘NEW DAY’ HAD A ‘NEW DAWN!’
Just as one woman had a key role in bringing sin and death into the world, another woman played a key role in bringing the One who would conquer sin and death into the world. For as Saint Paul wrote: “God sent his Son, born of a woman.”
[Galatians 4:4]
This fulfilled a promise made right after Adam and Eve fell from grace; speaking to the serpent, God said: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” [Genesis 3:15]

 

This battle against evil now continues through the offspring of every child of God. In God’s most mysterious plan, He graces each Christian all he or she needs to play his or her role in being the ‘first light of dawn’ that paves the way for the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, to enter in. Parents, grandparents, sponsors must help our children use these God-given graces.

Prayer over the Offerings – The Nativity of the BVM

 

May the humanity of your Only Begotten Son

come, O Lord, to our aid, and may he,

who at his birth from the Blessed Virgin

did not diminish but consecrated her integrity,

by taking from us now our wicked deeds,

make our oblation acceptable to you.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

THE BIRTH OF THE VIRGIN MOTHER. Some say Church teaching on our Blessed Mother’s perpetual
virginity

shows the Church’s disdain for human sexuality – but that is so untrue! For she firmly believes – and encourages married couples to do as God said: “Be fertile and multiply!” [Genesis 1:28] – and God was not talking about the new math! However, the Church – and God – also honors those who – like Jesus – remain celibate or unmarried as a sign that we are created for far more than the joys of this world.

 

In biblical days, being childless or barren was considered a curse from God; without the social services we enjoy, the unmarried, widowed or orphaned were often without any support. Yet it was God who promised: to “give the childless wife a home” and make her “the joyful mother of children.” [Psalm 113:9] This Psalm is beautifully fulfilled in our Blessed Mother, whom we call the Mother of the Church, the Mother of every Christian who, by Baptism, becomes a brother or sister of her Son, Jesus!

 

Prayer after Communion – The Nativity of the BVM

 

As we celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we bring you our offerings, O Lord, and we humbly pray to be

given strength by the humanity of your Son,

who from her was pleased to take flesh.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

SON OF GOD, SON OF MARY.
Some say we Catholics make ‘too much’ of Mary, but all we profess about her is ultimately about her Son. For as the Son of Mary, He is truly one of us: a human person, with all our limitations. However, having no human father, He is truly Son of God
… who alone destroys sin and death! Happy Birthday, Blessed Mother … pray for us!

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor August 28, 2016


 

22nd Sunday in

Ordinary Time – C

 

My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory Memorial and full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion]
is on The Passion of Saint John the Baptist,
observed on August 29. While our Blessed Mother has many Feast Days – and rightfully so, only 2 Saints have 3 Feast Days. Saints Peter and Paul
share a Solemnity on June 29; each has their own Feast: The Chair of Peter the Apostle on February 22
and The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle on
January 25
, and they share the Optional Memorial
of the Dedication of their respective Roman Basilicas
on November 18. Only 2 Saints have 2 days: we honor Saint Joseph, Spouse of the BVM
on March 19
and Saint Joseph the Worker
on May 1. And we honor The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24 and his Passion on August 29. [If liturgical trivial is on heaven’s entrance exam, you owe me!] Here are the orations for The Passion of Saint John the Baptist.

 

Collect – Passion of Saint John the Baptist

 

O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist

should go ahead of your Son both in his birth and in his death, grant that,

as he died a Martyr for truth and justice,

we, too, may fight hard

for the confession of what you teach.

Through our Lord … for ever and ever. Amen.

 

WHAT DOES THE FAITH COST YOU?
Did the English translators of this Collect have a sick sense of humor – or choose words poorly? They COULD have said that John the Baptist, who was BEHEADED, went BEFORE
Jesus … but instead they said John went … AHEAD … of Jesus! Certainly I know beheadings are no joke … for Christians still suffer that same fate at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists! Over the centuries, numerous Saints lost their heads for the same reason John the Baptist lost his head.

 

More than one English Saint was beheaded for daring to ‘speak truth to power.’ And the issues these martyrs raised were usually the ones John confronted: misuse of authority; violations of God’s Commandments, particularly Matrimony; moral and ethical ambivalence. Yet do we take time to let what some lost their head over even enter into our head? Do we strive to learn and understand Church teaching on marriage and sexuality, political power and religious freedom, ethics and morals? God help and forgive us!

 

Prayer over the Offerings – Passion of Saint JTB

 

Through these offerings

which we bring you, O Lord, grant that

we may make straight your paths,

as taught by that voice crying in the desert,

Saint John the Baptist, who powerfully sealed his teaching by the shedding of his blood.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD.
John the Baptist did far more than simply die for the Lord; he lived his entire life
for God – and strove to help others know and serve the Lord. Like John the Baptist, we must do the same in our own time, when many of our loved ones no longer practice the Faith. Like John, we must prepare the way for the Lord
to enter – or reenter into their life … by SHOWING them, by our words and deeds, the power of our Faith. This may cause us to endure hardships and rejection, though I doubt it would lead to the shedding of our blood!

 

Prayer after Communion – Passion of Saint JTB

 

Grant, O Lord, as we celebrate the heavenly birth of Saint John the Baptist, that we may revere, for what it signifies, the saving Sacrament we have received and, even more, may rejoice at its clear effects in us.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

ARE YOU THE CHRIST?

When the imprisoned John sent disciples to ask Jesus if He were the Christ, Jesus replied: “Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.'” [C.f. Matthew 11:2-5] As this prayer suggests, we who receive ‘the Christ’ in the Blessed Sacrament should be able to show the world – through our words and deeds – that the Eucharist truly is Christ’s Real Presence! Saint John the Baptist, pray for us!

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS