Seton Sunday Message from our Pastor

Dear Members of our Parish Family and our Visitors,

Thanks for checking out our Parish website; I know you will find it appealing, interesting and inviting. Even in these days of ‘Covid-19’ constrictions and pandemic problems and worldwide worry and woe, our Parish has remained as active and alive as is possible – and permitted! I am most grateful to our Parish Staff and the heads of ministries for doing all they can – and then some – to keep us safe and ‘open for business.’ [Like Jesus, we, too, “… must be about [our] Father’s work.” [Cf Luke 2:49]

On this site you will find the handiwork of some who so love being an active member of this great Parish that they recorded snippets or vignettes of who they are, how they serve the Lord through our ministries or organizations, and how you can join them. May God bless them for proclaiming their Catholic Faith and helping to spread the Good News. May their efforts to help us to continue to return to ‘the new norm’ – whatever that may be – be fruitful.

I am also grateful to all who come to or ‘tune into’ Masses and other events via our website. And, of course, I am also most grateful to all who continue to be so generous to the Parish, to the Diocese of Metuchen, and to charities during these difficult and uncertain times. While our needs are great, and our hopes and dreams are high, we must also be concerned – as so many of you are – with those who have nowhere near what we enjoy. Again, may the Lord bless you for your goodness.

Finally, as Thanksgiving and Christmas draw near, know that we will continue to do all we are permitted to do to celebrate these great Feasts as best we can. In the letters being sent via our Diocese from each Pastor to their registered parishioners, I will continue to update you on our schedule as well as on my stewardship of the resources you entrust to me. Among them: making the Parish Office entranceway doors handicap accessible and automatically activated; updating the 11 year old carillon [bells] system, replacing the narthex floor tiles, installing a security camera system so we can be even more open and safe; and continuing to bring our facilities up-to-date with the many virtual tools upon which we have all become so dependent and with which we can remain so connected.

May our Patroness, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, continue to watch over us; and may we continue to follow her example by boldly proclaiming our Catholic Faith in all we say and do.

                                In His holy Name,

                                Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KCHS, Pastor

Holy Week Explanation

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church

105 Summer Road Three Bridges, NJ 08887-2307

908-782-1475 Fax: 908-782-6230

Email: parishoffice@easeton.net

www.easeton.net

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the SEAS Parish family,

 

    How I sorely miss all of you! You are in my prayers; please pray for me. Years ago, in an Epiphany homily, I told how – in some countries, Christmastime ended with a special blessing for all who, due to the brutal winter, would not gather as ‘church’ nor receive Holy Communion until Easter! In our wildest dreams, who ever imagined we’d face the same fate because of a pandemic virus. I SO MISS: celebrating Mass with you; greeting and chatting with you; fist-bumping kids; sharing your joys and sorrows; tormenting you with puns, bad jokes, and an alarming abundance of annoying alliterations; etc. Once we get back together again, I promise to ‘make it up’ to you!

 

    While we will not gather in our ‘parish home’ for Holy Week this year, make every effort to ‘tune in’ to every Rite you can – especially Sunday Mass – via the blessing of modern communication. SEAS can only broadcast recorded, not ‘live‘ events, as required for Holy Week Services, and honestly, it would be even more painful for me to ‘half-celebrate’ them with all the restrictions placed on our annual spectacular communal events, but I do hope to tape an Easter Sunday Mass! So join in the Services offered on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website: www.usccb.org or the Diocese of Metuchen’s website: www.diometuchen.org. Log on to – for FREE – easeton.formed.org – which SEAS pays for; it offers a treasure trove of Catholic movies, talks, and other programs for all ages. Our computer server crashed last week; the new server should be running by now … so keep abreast via our website: www.easeton.net of Parish events and timetables. Our main form to communicate is ‘blast emails,’ so email to parishoffice@easeton.net with your name so we can add you to our list … but give us time to update our records!

 

    This horrific pandemic has given an interesting twist to the Scriptures proclaimed on Good Friday: “Who would believe what we have heard?” [First Reading: Isaiah 53:1a] and Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” [Second Reading: Hebrews 5:8-9]
Who would believe that we’d have no public Holy Week events? That so many special events would be cancelled or postponed? That our economy, our everyday life, our EVERYTHING, would be turned upside down? That a Pope would offer prayers in an empty Saint Peter Square? That religious activities would be limited and churches closed to protect lives, while the State allows abortion clinics, which destroy lives, to remain open? Should not our limited medical facilities, overworked personnel and scarce supplies be used to combat Coronavirus and save lives – rather than to destroy life?

 

    Our Christian Faith assures us: God always wins in the end, and that every discipline – even being ‘quarantined’ – can be grace-filled – if we seek God’s presence, even in what seems so ungodly. This is the joy-filled, hope-filled message of Easter! And while every cross we carry has its pains and sorrows, we, as an Easter people, can bring light into darkness and joy into sorrow! For Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us” [Romans 8:34]
is rooting for us, along with His Mother, and our Patroness, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, and all the Angels and Saints! So, while it may be premature, I’ll say it anyway: “alleluia, Alleluia, ALLELUIA!” [There; I broke a rubric and said the “A” word in Lent!]

 

    In all seriousness: these are challenging times for all of us. May God bless all who have continued to mail or drop off their weekly offerings so we can pay all bills on time and not dismiss any Parish staff members. And thanks to all who pledge or make payments to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. We are looking for an economical way to offer ‘online’ giving, which maintains a steady flow of cash but can be costly. Envelope and credit card companies and banks charge a fee to those who make ‘online’ offerings and/or the Parish for ‘online’ donations. The enclosed letter from Jim Letchford, our Finance Committee Chairman, addresses this and other financial issues. [Although I tease Jim every year when he makes his ‘most exciting’ financial report, I am grateful for all he and the members of the Finance Committee do for our Parish.]

 

    As of now, our church will be open on Saturday: 4 PM – 6 PM; Sunday: 8:00 AM – 12:30 PM; Monday-Thursday: 8:00 AM – 5 PM; and Friday: 8 AM – 12:00 NOON [check the website for special Good Friday times] for you to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, light a candle, walk the Stations, etc.; please limit your visit so others can enter the church, as no more than 10 people are permitted in a room at the same time. [Official mandates from the State or Bishop could change all this.]

 

    Our Bishop has permitted Priests to offer one private Mass each day for that day’s requested Mass intention[s], which I faithfully offer. Blessed palm branches, refrigerated in sealed bags, will be available at a future date, as will blessed Easter water. Baptisms will be rescheduled at a mutually agreeable time with each family. As of now, the dates and times for First Holy Communions and Confirmation remain unchanged, and the preparation for these special Sacraments is complete; the Funeral Practices & Planning Workshop [April 28] and the Open Forum with the Pastor [May 26] are also, as of now, unchanged.

 

    A modified weekly bulletin is available on our website: www.easeton.net; follow the link on the top of the opening page; the date for the resumption of the Sacrament of Reconciliation [Penance or Confession] will be announced when known; if the opportunity to attend holy Mass and/or receive Holy Communion arises before you can get to Confession, the Church permits those normally able to receive Eucharist to do so by first making an Act of Contrition and then going to Confession as soon as humanly possible.

 

    Like the women at the tomb on that first Easter morning, many are wondering, “Who will roll back the stone for us …? [Cf. Mark 16:3] and when will we, like Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, be unbound and set free? [Cf. John 11: 44]
May we have the faith, hope and love to patiently await that glorious day when we will be gathered together again in one place: our beloved ‘parish home.’ And let us persist in the most powerful weapon at our disposal: prayer! Pray for all who have died; pray for all who are sick; pray for the medical professionals and first responders who risk their lives to save others; pray for all who suffer in any way from this crisis; and pray for each other. On Good Friday, at 3:00 PM, remember to pause in silence, to genuflect before and kiss a Cross or Crucifix, to thank the Lord Jesus for offering His life for us! Amen.

 

    In His holy Name,

 

 

 

    Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KCHS

    Pastor

Letter from Fr. Tom regarding Global Pandemic

Dear Members of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church,

    Please be assured that you and your loved ones are not only in my prayers, you are also in the prayers and concerns of our Bishop, who has asked us Pastors to assure you that we are doing all we can to keep everyone as safe as possible. While no one knows what the future holds, and as our Bishop said, we did not even imagine what disciplines and sacrifices this Lent would demand of us – we still look forward to a joy-filled Easter.

    The last publicly celebrated Mass was held Tuesday, March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day, at 9 AM until AT LEAST the Saturday Vigil Mass for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, April 4. Funerals will be celebrated as needed. Friday Stations of the Cross and the Simple Soup Supper are cancelled. Please watch the Mass on TV, on the diocesan website [below] or at least spend some time in prayer on Sunday.

    The Sacrament of Reconciliation [Penance or Confession]. No Penance Services may be conducted until after Easter; Confessions WILL be heard IN THE CHAPEL, NOT IN THE SMALL RECONCILIATION ROOM, at the usual time of Saturday at 4:00 PM; please be a brief as possible.

    Eucharistic Adoration. During the regular WEEKEND Mass times: 4 PM – 6 PM Saturday and 8:00 AM – 12:30 PM Sundays – the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed on the Altar for private Prayer – IF ENOUGH EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS AND OTHERS ‘sign up’ so the Blessed Sacrament is not left unattended. [During most of these times, Confessions MAY be heard when a Priest is available; again, please be as brief as possible.]

    The Church is USUALLY open 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday – Thursday and 8:00 AM – 12:00 noon on Friday. Please keep a safe distance from each other during visits to the church as you pray before the Blessed Sacrament, Walk the Stations, etc.

    We will communicate any updates via our website [easeton.net], our bulletin and via blast emails. If you did not receive our blast email this week when these restrictions went into effect, we likely do not have your current email address. Please contact the Parish Office to have your email information updated.

    For those who have children in Sacrament Prep: ALL CHILD-BASED EVENTS [Classes, CLOW & Sacrament Prep sessions] are cancelled.


As of now, the dates and times for First Holy Communions and Confirmation remain unchanged, and the remaining preparation work for these special Sacraments will be completed by you – with the help of the Parish staff. We are looking into other ways to fulfill the Confirmation Retreat requirement, even on an individual basis, and will be in contact with you. ‘We Celebrate’ First Eucharist Book should be completed at home and dropped off at the Parish so it can be ‘graded;’ it will be returned to you on FHC day.

Our Bishop’s comforting words, may be found find – with updates – on the diocesan website: diometuchen.org/coronavirus; and on our diocesan social media pages: @diocesemetuchen.

In His holy Name,


Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KCHS
Pastor

Our Lady of Guadalupe Consecration Parish Awakening Night

Next Tuesday, May 21, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM, SEAS will host an Our Lady of Guadalupe Consecration Parish Awakening Night. What is an Awakening Night? An Awakening Night is an Evening of Prayer, Preaching and Testimony centered on the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Join us at SEAS’ Awakening Night next Tuesday!

With all that has gone on – and is going on – in our world and in our Church, I make this personal, special request that every parishioner come to this Awakening Night to show their support for – and, more importantly, to pray for – our Church, our Diocese and our Parish, our Bishop and all Priests, our Country and all Nations, for Vocations and for our Blessed Mother’s never-failing intercession for all of our hopes and dreams, needs and intentions.

Taking part in this Awakening Night is even more important for those who serve in any Parish Ministry at SEAS: Liturgical, Faith Formation [RF catechists, aides, hall monitors, Adult Faith, RCIA, CLOW, VBS, Altar Servers, Passion Play and Epiphany Pageant ministers, Wedding Prep, Baptismal Prep, Pre-Cana, Ushers], Social or Spiritual. For unless we who minister to the Parish are updated in the faith, we cannot minister to our fellow parishioners to the best of our ability. And, by seeing you, they might be prompted to join in ministry.

Lastly, this Awakening Night is a great way to understand why our Parish, with Saint Mary Church in Rutherford and Saint Justin Church in Toms River, is sponsoring a 5 day Pilgrimage to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico November 18-22, 2019. Having previously known little about this 1500’s Marian Apparition, the more I find out about it – the more meaningful the pilgrimage has become.

SO – PLEASE JOIN US AT SEAS NEXT TUESDAY NIGHT – MAY 21 – 7:00 – 9:00 PM.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us.

Father Tom

From the Pastor – 3rd Sunday of Advent – B – Gaudete [Rejoice] Sunday December 17, 2017


From the Pastor

 

3rd Sunday of

Advent – B

 

Gaudete [Rejoice] Sunday

 

December 17, 2017

 

 

By now we have had our fill of commercials showing idealistic and unrealistic images of tensionless, joy-filled, ‘perfect’ Christmases: late-night returning college students who make coffee; new luxury cars parked in snowy driveways; turkeys perfectly carved – at the table no less; Santas who bring everything wanted, already assembled! While we should dream of, hope and pray for a ‘perfect’ Christmas, we must also accept the fact that in our imperfect world, human weakness mars our best efforts. Even the Holy Family had its struggles: no room in the inn; a death-defying flight to Egypt to escape a madman; a child lost for three days …

 

Just as Jesus, Mary and Joseph endured every trial and challenge, so can we – IF we follow their example of total trust in God and His plan – and imitate their constant prayerfulness. Again, while Votive Masses are not usually celebrated during ‘privileged times’ like Advent, it might be good to keep the following orations close at hand, so we can pray them before family gatherings. Who knows: maybe this will be a more ‘perfect’ Christmas … if we ask for – and use – God’s help to make it so! Here are the Mass orations entitled For the Family.

 

Collect – For Promoting Harmony

 

O God, who are perfect unity and true charity,

grant your faithful one heart and one mind,

that the body of your Church,

which rests on the confession of the truth,

may flourish in harmony

and be made strong in enduring unity.

 

Through our Lord Jesus Christ … and ever. Amen.

 

ONE HEART AND ONE MIND.
Talk about a dreamy ideal: make us one heart and one mind!’ Some families, like my own, have ‘set rules’ for family gatherings: no discussions about politics, sports – or even religion. [That last one’s often tough for me to keep!] However, Jesus never ‘beat a dead horse;’ sometimes He disengaged with those whose hearts and minds were ‘dead set’ against His heart and mind. So when it’s a ‘no win’ situation – learn to let go and leave it in God’s hands!

Prayer over the Offerings – For Promoting Harmony

 

O God, who renew us in your image through your Sacraments and your commandments,

mercifully guide our footsteps in your paths,

that through these sacrificial offerings which

we bring we may possess the gift of charity,

for which you have taught us to hope.

Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

DIVINE HELP WITH HUMAN STRUGGLES.
So many try to ‘go it alone’ when they deal with stressful family situations … yet God is always ready to help – but we must ask for and use His help! While it’s difficult to keep the Lord’s Commandments as others break them, God never said, “Thou shalt not … unless others do.” Dealing with belligerent, issue-laden, negative family members does not give us the right to treat them as they treat us. And let’s admit it: sometimes we are the offenders. That’s where the Sacraments come in handy: the Eucharist gives us the grace to become another Christ; Penance, Confession or Reconciliation can heal us when we’ve caused the fire, or added fuel to it. Do we use the divine help God offers through the Commandments and Sacraments?

 

Prayer after Communion – For Promoting Harmony

 

We have received, O Lord,

the Sacrament of unity; grant us, we pray,

that, living in your house in holy accord,

we may possess the peace we hand on

and preserve the peace we have received.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

PASS ON WHAT YOU RECEIVE.

As members of God’s family, we are beneficiaries of so many gifts: pardon of sin; supernatural grace; community support; time-tested, divinely inspired teachings. Do we invite others to enjoy – and benefit from – what we so freely receive through the Chur
ch? Do we take tranquility and peace for granted? For having a holy family does not happen by magic; it requires prayer, sacrifice, patience, a positive attitude – and God’s grace. Are we doing our part to make this the most ‘perfect’ Christmas possible? Jesus, Mary and
Joseph,
pray for us!

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor – 2nd Sunday of Advent – B December 10, 2017


From the Pastor

 

2nd Sunday of

Advent – B

 

December 10, 2017

 

 

Votive Masses are not usually celebrated in what we call privileged
time which is every
day in Advent and Christmastime, Lent and Eastertime, and on all Solemnities, Feasts
and Obligatory
Memorials. However,
there are exceptions to this rule, as when we want to honor our Blessed Mother, so the Roman Missal provides orations we call ‘Commons or generic prayers, some of which highlight a certain theme. This weekend, between two Marian Feasts: the Immaculate Conception
and Our Lady of Guadalupe, I’ll reflect on the ‘Common orations for use during Advent. For who else can better help us understand Advent: a time of joyful expectation, patient waiting, and hope-filled worry, than she who literally
lived these things for nine months: our Blessed Mother?

 

Collect – Common of the BVM in Advent

 

O God, who willed that at the message

of an Angel your Word should take flesh

in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary,

grant that we, who pray to you

and believe her to be truly the Mother of God,

may be helped by her interceding before you.

 

Through our Lord Jesus Christ … and ever. Amen.

 

TO BE PREGNANT WITH JESUS.
While only our Blessed Mother knows what it is like to literally carry the unborn Christ in her womb, Jesus said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” [Luke 8:21]
So, to be ‘His Mother’ and bring Him to birth, we must do what all pregnant women should do: we must prepare
ourselves to receive Jesus, nurture Him, and enable Him to come to birth through us. We must better understand how God wants to work now in us – by knowing how He worked through others in the past. We presume our Blessed Mother
knew the Scriptures, and was attuned to how God worked in the past. With her family, she celebrated the Jewish rituals that made their faith come alive, so she was well prepared to act on her faith when God invited her to do so. We who wish to bring Christ to birth must strive to follow Our Lady’s
example.

Prayer over the Offerings – BVM in Advent

 

Accept, O Lord, these offerings, and by your power change them into the Sacrament of salvation, in which, fulfilling the sacrifices of the Fathers, is offered the true Lamb, Jesus Christ your Son, born of the ever-Virgin Mary

in a way beyond all telling.

Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

WHO ARE ‘THE FATHERS?’
The Church uses the term ‘The Fathers’ to designate special groups of men who played key roles in the development of our Faith. The Council Fathers were the Bishops who had major input at the 1960’s Second Vatican Council. The Apostolic Fathers were Bishops who
personally knew the Apostles. From AD 100 to 800, the Patristic Fathers
formed the Creed and other dogmas.

 

But the Fathers referenced in this oration are those who, in Old Testament times, entered into covenants with God that were sealed with a sacrifice. Among them are Father Abraham, as Jesus calls him in a parable, who was tested by being asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The more we understand the sacrifices the Fathers of old made, the more the greatest sacrifice of all: God’s sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son, means to us. We presume our Blessed Mother’s
knowledge of these sacrifices helped her accept her Son’s self-sacrifice as she stood beneath His Cross.

 

Prayer after Communion – BVM in Advent

 

May the mysteries we have received, O Lord

our God, always show forth your mercy in us,

that we, who commemorate in faith the Mother of your Son, may be saved by his Incarnation.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

WILL YOU CELEBRATE THE INCARNATION?

While Christmas means many things, it is, above all, the mystery of the Incarnation:
God became a man, born of a Virgin, who totally gave herself to the Lord to make God’s plan a reality. How can we give of ourselves so God’s plan to save the world through Christ becomes a greater reality through us?
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor – 1st Sunday of Advent – B – December 3, 2017


From the Pastor

 

1st Sunday of

Advent – B

 

December 3, 2017

 

 

Born on April 7, 1506 to nobility in Spain’s Xavier Castle, Saint Francis Xavier travelled extensively before he died on an island off China in 1552 on December 3, which is now his Feast Day. He was ordained a Priest on June 24, 1537, with Saint Ignatius of Loyola; they, with a few other friends, formed what would become the Jesuit Order. Pope Paul III denied his request to be a missionary to the Holy Land due to all the political unrest there; instead, in 1541, the Pope appointed him Papal Nuncio or Ambassador to Goa, India.

 

Three years later he went to preach on remote Indonesian islands; in 1549 he went to Japan, and made the first recorded Japanese convert, a man named Anjiro. Some say he was the first missionary to reach the Philippines. After a brief return to India, he set off for China, arriving in April, 1552, where he fell ill and died later that year. On each voyage he faced opposition and criticism; he also struggled to learn each culture and language: no easy feat in Oriental lands. He is often depicted preaching to those from many lands. Canonized with Saint Ignatius on March 12, 1622, Saint Francis Xavier is the patron saint of Missionaries and Catholic Missions.

 

Collect – Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

 

O God, who through the preaching of Saint Francis Xavier won many peoples to yourself,

grant that the hearts of the faithful

may burn with the same zeal for the faith

and that Holy Church may everywhere

rejoice in an abundance of offspring.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ … and ever. Amen.

 

LET THE CHILDREN COME TO ME.”
This quote from Jesus, recorded in three of the four Gospels, was crucial to Saint Francis Xavier. In each town he entered, he walked through the streets ringing a bell [a precursor of the ‘Good Humor man?’] to attract children, whom he took to a church for catechetical lessons. What do we do to share our Faith with children?

 

Prayer over the Offerings – Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

 

Receive, O Lord, these offerings we bring you

in commemoration of Saint Francis Xavier, and grant that, as he journeyed to distant lands out of longing for the salvation of souls, so we, too, bearing effective witness to the Gospel,

may, with our brothers and sisters,

eagerly hasten towards you.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

DO WE HELP OR HURT THE CAUSE?
One of his greatest obstacles in spreading the Faith was the unchristian, often scandalous behavior of Christians! He was often embarrassed by the conduct of Portuguese sailors and businessmen, many of whom had come to India simply seeking adventure. Many had even been prisoners or troublemakers back home, and their bad example severely hindered the good he tried to do. By our words and example, do we hurt or hinder the cause of evangelization?

 

Prayer after Communion – Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

 

May your mysteries, O God, kindle in us that

fire of charity with which Saint Francis Xavier burned for the salvation of souls, so that, walking ever more worthily in our vocation,

we may obtain with him the reward you promise to those who labor well in your harvest.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

DO WE HAVE FIRE IN OUR BELLY?
Besides images of his vast missionary activity [sailing
vessel, globe, catechism, crucifix] he is often depicted as a young, bearded
Priest, holding fire or a flaming
torch. For as his orations stress: he was aflame with a burning desire
to spread the Good News. He is credited with making 40,000 converts and baptizing 10,000 in just one month! What a feat!

 

His body is still enshrined in a shrine in Goa, India, but his right arm
– with which he blessed and rang that bell – is in Rome’s Church of the Gesù, the ‘Mother House’ for all Jesuits. Do we allow ourselves to be consumed by the love of God? Do we have a burning desire to evangelize? Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us!

 

In His holy Name,

 


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – A – November 26, 2017


From the Pastor

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – A

 

November 26, 2017

 

 

As the Church crowns another liturgical year by honoring Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we crown the growing season by giving thanks for God’s annual gift of the harvest. As a country that still says she’s ‘one nation under God’ [who knows how long this will be allowed before political correctness bans every mention of faith from the public forum!] we have just celebrated Thanksgiving Day – a day set aside to thank ‘someone’
for the fruits of the earth. While farmers, harvesters, transport drivers, store workers and others enable us to enjoy a bountiful spread at our tables, Christians and other faith-based people know that all things are – ultimately – a gift from God. So on this weekend, as we give thanks to God for the gifts of the earth, we reflect on the orations provided by the Catholic Church for giving thanks ‘After the Harvest.’

 

Collect – After the Harvest

 

O Lord, good Father, who in your providence

have entrusted the earth to the human race,

grant, we pray, that with the fruits harvested from it we may be able to sustain life and,

with your help, always use them to promote your praise and the well-being of all.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ … and ever. Amen.

 

GOD’S GIFTS ARE TO BE SHARED.
As Pope Francis reminds us in his encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’ [On Care for Our Common Home],
God’s gift of creation is NOT inexhaustible. So we must protect and preserve, carefully ration and use reasonably and sparingly, share and secure for future generations, all that we so often take for granted. And it is imperative that we Christians express – in word and deed – our appreciation for God’s gracious and countless gifts. We must ask ourselves: how often do we ‘say grace’ or pray before and after meals? How often do we offer support for – or even serve in – soup kitchens, or take part in other ways that feed the hungry and share the earth’s bounty?

 

And we must never forget that feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the poor and needy and so on … are truly acts of worship!

Prayer over the Offerings – After the Harvest

 

Sanctify, O Lord, the offerings we bring to you with thanksgiving from the fertile earth

and, as you give us a rich harvest

of the earth’s produce, so make our hearts abound with heavenly fruitfulness.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

ARE WE AS FRUITFUL AS THE EARTH?

We all bemoan the fact that weeds grow so easily, so quickly, and so forcefully almost anywhere; some spend loads of time and money to ‘weed out’ such ‘undesirables.’ And only a fool would expect a great harvest from a field that is left to fend for itsel
f, devoid of daily care, unfed by nutrients and other aids, like sunlight and water, for its growth. Yet what do we who hope to be the chosen fruit of the greatest harvest, the one that will take place at the end of time, do [or try not to do] so we can be gathered to the Saints in heaven? Do we faithfully, regularly celebrate the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist: our primary nourishment, and Reconciliation, Confession or Penance: the ultimate in ‘pulling up the weeds?’

 

Prayer after Communion – After the Harvest

 

Grant, we pray, O Lord, that,

as we give you thanks in this saving mystery

for the crops harvested from the earth, we may, through the same mystery working within us,

be worthy to receive still greater blessings.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

YOU ARE DUST, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN.”
These words from Genesis 3:19 recall how while we humans are the highpoint of God’s creation we are still ‘of the earth.’ Have we forgotten our ‘roots?’ The same ‘hand of God’ that created and sustains, provides for and has a plan for all He made – also does the same for each one of us, personally! Do we live up to all God made US to be? For Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.” [Matthew 7:16-17]
What is God hoping to harvest from us?

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – A – November 19, 2017


From the Pastor

 

33rd Sunday

in Ordinary Time – A

 

November 19, 2017

 

 

We honor the two great Apostles, Saint Peter
and Saint Paul, on November 18: the ‘Dedication Day’ of two Roman basilicas under which each is said to be buried. Both basilicas were given by the Emperor Constantine in the 300’s. By the 1400’s, after centuries of additions and renovations, the age-worn Saint Peter Basilica
had to be demolished; the new basilica [above] was dedicated on November 18, 1626. The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls
[right] – also a gift from Constantine – was destroyed by fire in 1823; the new basilica was dedicated on December 10, 1854 by Pope Pius IX, two days after his dogmatic declaration of the Immaculate Conception. [He did that since many Cardinals and Bishops were still in Rome for that solemn occasion.] It’s called
‘Outside-the-Walls’
since it is not in Vatican City-State; it is an extraterritorial property of the Vatican.

 

Notice I never said either basilica is a cathedral; the Pope’s cathedra or seat as Bishop of Rome
is in the Archbasilica of Saint John in Lateran, commonly called Saint John Lateran, which is built on Lateran Hill and is named in honor of Saint John the Baptist
and Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist. We have a similar situation in Washington D.C.; the Cathedral of Saint Matthew houses the Archbishop of Washington’s cathedra; a plaque also marks where President Kennedy’s body rested for his Funeral Mass in 1963. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. is a Shrine; it honors our Country’s Patroness: Our Lady, under her title, the Immaculate Conception. More important than a Saint’s basilica is the example of the Saint for whom it is named. Here are the orations for The Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles.

 

Collect – Dedication / Saints Peter & Paul Basilicas

 

Defend your Church, O Lord, by the protection of the holy Apostles, that, as she received

from them the beginnings of her knowledge

of things divine, so through them she may receive, even to the end of the world,

an increase in heavenly grace.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ … and ever. Amen.

 

OUR ‘ROCK’ FOUNDATION AND GREATEST TEACHER.

Our Church is firmly built on the Confession
of Faith by Saint Peter: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” [Matthew 16:16]
and on Saint Paul’s
encyclopedic Epistles, which explain the Faith. As the Collect for their basilicas’ dedication states: we must build on the revealed truths God entrusted to them. If we do not, we are building on sand; if we do, our faith has the best chance of standing the test of time and weathering every storm … as their respective basilicas have almost endured!

 

Prayer over the Offerings – Dedication / Basilicas

 

As we bring you this offering of our service, we beseech your mercy, Lord, that the truth handed down to us by the ministry of the Apostles Peter and Paul may endure undefiled in our hearts. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

FAITHFUL TO OUR ROOTS.

The Church is ‘ever new’ since she applies the timeless truths God entrusted to her to each generation’s questions. She cannot be swayed by opinion polls, popular notions, the latest fads, or other passing, often foolish ideas. We owe it to Saint Peter
, Saint Paul
and countless others who gave their life to defend and promote God’s truth to try to understand and live by God’s truth.

 

Prayer after Communion – Dedication / Basilicas

 

May your people, we pray, O Lord, nourished by the Bread of heaven, rejoice in commemorating the Apostles Peter and Paul, for it is through your gift that we are governed under their patronage. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

THE EUCHARIST IS CENTRAL.
The main reason we have basilicas and cathedrals, churches and chapels, is so that we have a place to come together to celebrate the holy Mass: to hear God’s Word and receive Christ’s Body and Blood. May these two great Apostles
watch over and protect our place of worship.

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS

From the Pastor 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – A – November 12, 2017


 

 

‘Jumping Jehoshaphat!’
The Hebrew name Jehoshaphat
means “God has judged!” It’s the name of Judah’s 4th king, whose reign [873–849 BC] was peacefully prosperous. Over the centuries many took that name in its Greek or Latin form: Josaphat, like the Saint we honor on November 12. Born in Lithuania in 1580 in an area equally split between Catholic and Orthodox Christians, he was martyred in 1630 on his present feast day. To understand his importance, we need a crash course in Catholic and Orthodox, Western and Eastern Churches.

 

All Catholics accept Peter’s successor, the Pope; while we of the Latin or Western Rite keep the customs developed in the Roman Empire, Eastern Rite Catholics follow many customs of the Byzantine Empire, which split from the Roman Empire in 295. While all Catholics adhere to the basics, we differ in disciplines and customs: the Roman Rite is less elaborate than most Eastern Rites; they allow Priests to marry, we do not [our married ‘Permanent’ Deacons only began 50 years ago!]; we use unleavened [flat] wafers, they use leavened bread, etc.

 

Since these are non-essential differences, we are one Church … but some Eastern Rites split from Rome in 1054 over political issues, fueled by sinful desires on both sides for power, position and prestige. This tragically split Christianity in two; each side ‘excommunicated’ the other – a rift that still sadly exists. But in 1964, Blessed Pope Paul VI met his Greek counterpart in an historic meeting during which they lifted their mutual bans, and the dialogue to heal the rift continues to this day. This brief history omits one man whose quest to heal the rift cost him his life: Saint Josaphat; here are his orations.

 

Collect – Saint Josaphat, Bishop & Martyr

 

Stir up in your Church, we pray, O Lord,

the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat

as he laid down his life for the sheep,

so that through his intercession

we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit

and not be afraid to lay down our life for others.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ … and ever. Amen.

FIRST CANONIZED EASTERN RITE SAINT.
You can easily tell Eastern Rite clergy by their vestments: their Deacon’s stole crosses his chest and hangs down his left side; Priests wear more cape-like vestments than our chasubles; their Bishops don crowns, not miters. Orthodox Bishops not in union with Rome wear long black veils. Most Roman Catholics mistakenly think we’re the only Catholics; Roman and Eastern Rite CATHOLICS can receive Holy Communion in each other’s Churches, but intercommunion with the Orthodox is not yet permitted. Saint Josaphat
worked tirelessly for Roman and Eastern Rite Catholics to respect each other’s differences, but was hated by both sides. His symbol is an axe, since he was hacked to death trying to unite two Catholic factions severed from each other. He’s also seen with an olive branch for his efforts to restore and keep peace.

 

Prayer over the Offerings – Saint Josaphat

 

Most merciful God, pour out your blessing

upon these offerings and confirm us

in the faith that Saint Josaphat professed

by the shedding of his blood.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

DO WE WORK FOR CATHOLIC UNITY?
Do we let non-essentials split our Parish, Diocese or the whole Church: styles of music, architectural designs, customs or other traditions? In honor of Saint Josaphat let’s make sure we never make mountains out of molehills … or major issues over what are merely preferences.

 

Prayer after Communion – Saint Josaphat

 

May this heavenly table, O Lord,

bestow on us a spirit of fortitude and peace,

so that, following Saint Josaphat’s example,

we may willingly spend our lives

working for the honor and unity of the Church.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

CHRISTIAN UNITY. While we will not be able to quickly heal millennial-old schisms, we can learn more about other Christians. What will you do to promote Christian unity and worldwide peace? Saint Josaphat, pray for us!

 

In His holy Name,


 

 

 

Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS