Parish News

Fairytales include three bears, three little pigs, and three witches. The third time is a charm, we say. The life cycle is birth, life, and death. The magi brought three gifts to the infant Jesus. Time is divided into past, present, and future. Hegel taught about thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. And we could go on and on and on. Threes are all around us. Threes abound in Matthew's account of Jesus' passion as well. Judas is paid thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus (three times ten). Jesus takes his three favorite apostles Peter and "the two sons of Zebedee" as he goes off to pray. Three times Jesus finds Peter asleep after he asks him to "keep watch with me." One of the accusations against Jesus before the "chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin" is that he said he could rebuild the temple in three days. Peter denies three times that he knows Jesus. Jesus and two others were crucified on that first Good Friday. Jesus died at three in the afternoon. Pilate gave orders that "the grave be secured until the third day." But no one was prepared for what would happen on that third day!

It is easy to hear only the negatives in the passion accounts: Jesus is denied, betrayed, unjustly judged. He is scourged, mocked, crucified. He suffers, dies, and is buried. Yet all through the passion accounts, there are signs of life, promise, and hope. The night before he was betrayed Jesus gave his disciples a continuing memorial of his self-giving, his very Body and Blood for our nourishment as the sacrament of Life. He promised that he could rebuild the temple in three days, speaking of course about the temple of his own Body. He gave us everlasting hope that by not saving himself, he saved us.

This day—Palm Sunday—when we sing our hosannas and bow our heads in sorrow as we hear the passion account for the first time this year, we begin the holiest week of our Christian year. We must remember that this week is holy not because we historically recall the events of God's love that bring the human family redemption in Jesus Christ, but because through our prayer we experience the continuing grace and power of these moments present and real—here and now! Precisely because these faith-anchoring events are historical, they cannot be repeated or reenacted. That is why the church's long tradition insists that what happened once in history passes over into the mystery of our celebrations. What the paschal triduum actually celebrates is mystery, not history. The liturgies of these days do not "take us back to the upper room or the path to Calvary. Their ultimate purpose is not to retrace or relive the last hours of Jesus' life—nor to catch sight of him emerging from the tomb at Easter's dawning. They celebrate not what once happened to Jesus but what is now happening among us as a people called to conversion, gathered in faith, and gifted with the Spirit of holiness. They celebrate, even in the midst of this virus pandemic, God's taking possession of our hearts at their deepest core, recreating us as a new human community, a community rich in compassion, steadfast in hope and fearless in the search for justice and peace.

Holy Week is no ordinary week, for we celebrate Jesus' unreserved self-giving. Holy Week brings before us the demands of self-giving. All of our daily living throughout the year reminds us that, ultimately, like Jesus we must give ourselves over to God so that God might give us divine Life.

We cry this day "Hosanna!" but, unlike the people of the city of Jerusalem long ago, we need not ask "Who is this?" This is the one who models for us the mystery of life: die to self so that we might be exalted, raised to new life. This week we celebrate in pointed liturgies the meaning of our whole Christian living: dying to self so that God can raise us up, too. This dying can be as simple as setting aside the time to participate in all the Triduum (meaning "three days") liturgies or as demanding as entering into the depths of the paschal mystery by our own self-giving.

Perhaps this week we need to stop thinking of ourselves and our own needs first, ahead of others. Perhaps we must make Jesus the center of our lives instead of making ourselves the center of attention. Perhaps we need to calm down the frenetic pace of our own lives in this particular time and pandemic and cut some things out so we can concentrate on our loved ones more or help out those in need more. In these three examples what we give up leads to a new lease on life. Most importantly, it leads to new and deeper relationships and richer experiences. This is all new Life for us. This is what this week and the three days of the Triduum are all about.

"The teacher is here and he is asking for you," Martha whispered to her and Mary rose quickly and went to him. In our times and under these circumstances, I believe this is the most important thing you, I and this world needs to hear. The teacher is asking for you. The teacher is asking for me. The teacher is asking for anyone who will listen. Jesus wants us to rise and go to him.

We often hear something like, "never let a good crisis go to waste." I think God was listening. Out of evil that he does not cause, God can and does bring good. The coronavirus that has spread across the planet, sickening and killing people, hurting economies and – hard to believe - even closing our churches, is certainly a very bad thing. As humans our natural reactions are those of fear, uncertainty, heartache and withdrawal. But through this and all the trials of this passing world Jesus says, "Will you come to me? I have something to teach you that you don't know or have forgotten."

"Now that the coronavirus is holding you in place, may I have your attention:"

  • There are things more important in life than worldly success and comfort. It's time you get your priorities straight.
  • Your life is a sacred gift, treat it as holy.
  • I gave you your family, pay loving attention to them.
  • There are people who need your help, help them.
  • You're moving too fast and too loud, slow down and take some quiet time to consider my plan for your life.
  • Don't put off the love you can share now for loving that may never come tomorrow. Everything else you do will pass away.
  • The time to get to know me is now. After you're dead its going to be too late. Which reminds me, forgive others while you can.
  • If you will only return my love, instead of living for yourself, I will teach you how to truly love others.
  • Buy toilet paper before they run out. Well, not actually, but don't hog things and be more considerate of others works.
  • The list could go on, but what we need most need to know from Jesus in any time and in every circumstance is this : "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Not even death itself can separate us from the love of God, only we can do that.

    Do you believe this?" Because if you do, if you and I really and truly believe this, then like Lazarus we've been raised from the dead of sin. We don't live for ourselves. We don't live for what we can get on this earth. We live for the glory of God, radiating the joy and love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That is something we need constant reminding of, and it seems to me, that is exactly what God is doing right now in a very big way.

    Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; help us to rise and come to you.

    Peace, Please be assured that each of you and your families are in the prayers and thoughts of your parish priests and pastoral staff. We are thankful that technology affords us this opportunity to be together. We do indeed miss you! There is an iery quietness, to our church building, school, the entire campus.

    Fr. Carlo, Fr. Miguel and I have said how strange it is to be celebrating Mass alone in such a big church, but we saw a church in Italy, where the pastor invited his parishioners to email a selfie of his parish families and placed them through out the church.

    Fr. Carlo is a bid board and it is a good job I can give him. So if your would like to email , print it out an post it in our church.

    More importantly though, I hope that each of you through social media, telephone calls and perhaps a good old fashion letter and note are able to continue to be present to one another. It is important that we remember one another, reach out respecting the limitations that protect each of us as part of our moral responsibility is important. I read someone this week and thought it a good insight, we are physically distancing and not social distancing. Through all of this Fr. Carlo, Fr. Miguel and I have been able to share a few more moments together and a few more meals together, and we still are getting along great!

    We are blessed again to join with the Elect this Sunday and hear proclaimed with them—as they continue their journey of scrutiny--the story of Jesus healing the man blind from birth during. The second creation account in the book of Genesis tells us how "the Lord God formed the humanity out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life" (Gen 2:7). God was the first potter! God was the first to take dust and water, mixing it and smoothing it, and then drawing it into a divine image into which God breathed God's very own life. This Sunday's gospel tells of another divine potter—Jesus, the Son of God—who uses his own saliva to mix with the dust of the earth, make clay, and use it to bring new seeing and believing out of a blind beggar. All the man needed to do was to obey Jesus' command to "Go wash." He did so, and was recreated to see with the new eyes of faith.

    Through baptism we come to a new seeing and we are recreated into being more perfect members of the Body of Christ, more truth-filled images of God. Our own believing-responding to Jesus continually recreates us with new spiritual insight, with deeper believing, with more sure understanding of who Jesus is for us and who we are to be for others. This long gospel intertwines many conversation-encounters on many levels.

    Lent invites us into the same conversation-encounters with Jesus, in which we choose either to be drawn toward Jesus or to turn away from him. Which do we choose? This is our lifelong baptismal challenge. The miracle recorded in this gospel is less about a blind man receiving his sight than it is about the openness of the blind man to having an encounter with Jesus, his willingness to enter into conversation with Jesus, and his readiness to believe and respond in worship. This gospel challenges those who are preparing for the Easter sacraments to deepen their faith in Jesus' power to recreate them as members of his Body. It challenges all of us to deepen our faith so that we, too, are recreated with ever new Life. Then, like the blind man whom Jesus helps to see, we can exclaim "I do believe" and worship with raised hearts and voices.

    This call to encounter Jesus the healer is profound as we now experience the corona virus outbreak. But as we grow to see who Jesus is, we hear his words to be unafraid. And we reach out to encounter one another sharing Jesus. The physical separation we experience does not break the social bond of love we have in God. We remain claim, we walk together, we walk in the Lord and together in the Lord we will overcome this moment of darkness and walk into the glory of light!

    The Holy Father has requested that the entire Catholic world pray the rosary today, Thursday March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, for the intention of everyone affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

    The Pope will begin at 9 PM Rome time which is 4 PM EST here in the Diocese of Trenton. Domestic Church radio will lead a broadcast of the rosary at 4 PM EST: WFJS 1260 AM and 89.3 FM; WGN 1580 AM; WSMJ 91.9 FM.

    We cannot gather the in church to do this, given the prohibition against crowds, however you are encouraged to join in this Rosary in your homes.

    At the end of the general audience March 18, the pope said he is joining the initiative promoted by the Italian bishops to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary at 9pm (Italian time 4pm local time) on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph. Presumably, this initiative will gain ground across the globe, with each time zone joining in and creating a chain of prayer.

    Every family, every member of the faithful, every religious community: All of us spiritually united tomorrow (Thursday) at 9 pm in praying the Rosary, the Luminous Mysteries. Mary — Mother of God, and Health of the Sick, to whom we direct the Rosary, under the loving gaze of St. Joseph, Protector of the Holy Family, and our families — brings us to the luminous and transfigured Face of Christ and his Heart. And we ask that he especially protect our families, in particular the sick and those who care for them: doctors, nurses, and volunteers, who risk their lives in this service.

    Each year, the Bishop seeks the support of all the members of the diocese to further the work of our ministries. Your donation is important in building up our Church. Each of us has a vital part in all we do in Christ's name, and each of us can share in all we do with a gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal. Our single Act of Faith propels the works of love that build up our Church. St. Paul's share of the diocesan goal is $151,000. We truly need everyone to participate. Our parish will receive a 15% rebate when we collect funds equal to our parish goal. The Bishop is always grateful and moved by the level of support you give to your parish and diocese. Thank you and may God continue to bless you and your family. Please contact the parish office for more information or click here to be redirected to the diocesan Catholic Appeal Page for more information or to make an online gift/pledge.

    As we begin our Lenten practice of almsgiving as a community, you are invited to participate in a collection throughout Lent that will be dedicated to providing books and reading materials to less fortunate children of our area. A collection box will be placed near the cross throughout Lent. As the weeks of Lent unfold, it is suggested that you give up some item that week and contribute that to the purchase or gift a child's book.

    Join us this Lent as we read and discuss Fr. Paul Coutinho's book: "How Big Is Your God?: The Freedom to Experience the Divine." In this book, Fr. Coutinho, SJ, challenges us to grow stronger and deeper in our faith and in our relationship with God—a God whose love knows no bounds. To help us on our way, Coutinho introduces us to people in various world religions—from Hindu friends to Buddhist teachers to St. Ignatius of Loyola—who have shaped his spiritual life and made possible his deep, personal relationship with God.

    The book club will meet on the following Mondays: March 2, March 9, March 16, March 23, March 30 and April 6 from 12:45-1:30 pm in Rooms 1 & 2 in the Spiritual Center. For more information or to register for the book club contact the Parish Office at (609) 924-1743. To purchase a copy of Fr. Countinho's book on Amazon click here.

    All are welcome!

    This Advent, resolve to do something new: gather with family and friends, light a candle, pray together, and enjoy an evening of fellowship, or brunch, or cookies & tea. No matter how small or big your group, make it a point to invite pregnant Mary and Joseph to your gathering.

    Blessed icons of the Holy Family will be traveling around the parish – between families, small groups, organizations – for the three full weeks of Advent, and returning each Sunday of Advent to St. Paul Church. At each stop, people gather to pray with the icon present. Material for suggested communal prayer will be provided: Rosary, Morning prayer, Vespers, material for prayer with children, etc.. or design your own prayer gathering. To have a common thread, we ask that intercessions include families and children to be born, migrants and refugees, and Christians facing persecution.

    A sign-up list decides where Mary and Joseph are going each day; each stop may keep the icon two days (Mon & Tue, Wed & Thu, Fri & Sat); sign-up sheets are available in the church after Sunday Masses, November 17 and 24.

    During the month of November when we are called in a special way to remember "our brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection", our parish will be creating an Altar of Remembrance before the image of St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death. You are invited to place a small framed picture of your beloved deceased on the altar. Our Altar of Remembrance will remain until the beginning of Advent. Please write your name and phone number on the back of the frame so that they may be returned to you. As we remember our deceased, we are reminded that through Jesus' death and resurrection, life is changed, not ended in death.

    All parish families are invited to join in celebrating Respect Life Month during October. We will be hosting a Respect Life Bulletin Board in the church vestibule. You are invited to participate by bringing in items that reflect this year's theme, "Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life." You can add items to the bulletin board that help our parish family to see Christ's presence in all the seasons of life. Examples of items you may consider pinning to the display could include: an ultrasound photo of a new family member; a birth announcement; a prayer card from the funeral of a loved one; a note about volunteer opportunities in support of the dignity of life; or a sticky note with a prayer request. Be creative! A table of materials is in the vestibule to help you get started. We will continue to expand the display throughout the month.

    Thank you for helping us celebrate the gift of life through your participation