Greetings to all in this New Year,
Recently our Holy Father Francis wrote an Apostolic Exhortation to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful called "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel). The Pope has a way of speaking and writing from his heart. It seems that he has a burning desire to want us to draw close to Jesus. He calls each one of us to an encounter—or a renewed encounter—with God's love. This should impel us to bring others to Jesus. He reminds us that with Christ, joy is the echo of God's life in us.
This reminds me of the joy I recently experienced through the many volunteers who came to beautify our Church for Christmas. The joy that pervaded in the midst of all this work made God's life very visible to me. To all involved, thank you for your joy.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family,
CHRISTMAS is becoming Christmas again!!!
It was an amazing Christmas season! Not white as I always hope for (thanks to summer like tempatures the Monday before Christmas!). But the feeling of Christmas throughout the month of December felt a lot more like Christmas and a lot less Politically Correct this year, at least to me. Here are some of the things I remember from this past Christmas Season, where I found Christ in Christmas:
Christmas Carol music in malls and stores that included songs of a religious nature
A radio station advertisement about God's peace at Christmastime
Songs being played on radio stations that were religious in nature
Several comic strips in the Sunday papers with a religious theme
Cashiers and clerks wishing me a "Merry Christmas."
Praised be Jesus Christ!
In November, Pope Francis came out with an apostolic exhortation entitled, "the Joy of the Gospel" in which he encouraged Christians to be open to experience Jesus Christ in deeper ways in their lives. In the document he stated that, "the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness." He then went on to say, "I invite all Christians, everywhere, at every moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day." What a great/challenging call we have from our Holy Father Francis. I wonder how many of us really want to go deeper with Jesus, though. Are you content with where you are? He has so much that he wants to give but we expect so little from Him at times. We must have big expectations and desires for God because he desires to fulfill and even go beyond them.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family,
What a joy it is to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus and gather with family, friends and fellow parishioners at Christmas each year! This weekend, as we reflect on the Holy Family (who we are called to imitate within our own families), we especially remember their journeys.
One Christmas when our oldest daughter was not yet two years old and we were expecting our second child, we had to travel on Christmas Eve to visit relatives in Indiana. We left early that morning for Newark Airport, but once on the plane, a computer glitch made the plane late and we missed our connecting flight in Dayton, Ohio. We had to take another flight to Kalamazoo, Michigan, then a bus trip (in a snowstorm) from there to our destination in Indiana – finally arriving around 7:00 pm. With God's grace we were able to avoid "losing it" during this challenging trip and to support and love each other through a very trying experience.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family,
As we prepare these last few days before Christmas let us keep in mind the big picture…that is, Christmas was never meant to be just a day, but rather a lifestyle. Christ came to change the world, one heart at a time. He came for you and me. We really need Him.
He comes to us every day in so many ways… through the gift of life. We are alive because of God's will. No one is an accident or a mistake. God gives you life because He has chosen to make you and to send His Son to save you.
He comes to us through nature…the world all around us was created by God and is here to point our hearts to the God who fashioned it all. He made it for us as a reflection of His glory.
He comes to us in one another…He gives us other believers so we won't lose our way in times of discouragement and temptation. We need the believing community of the Church to stay centered in God.READ MORE
Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again Rejoice! (Phil 4:4) This Sunday we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, or Joy Sunday and we are filled with great joy because we recognize how close our Savior is. As we move forward through Advent and draw closer to Christmas, one cannot help but notice the parish coming alive in so many ways. Almighty God has blessed St. Magdalen's with grace upon grace. Beginning with the beautiful parish-wide total Consecration to our Blessed Mother in October the Holy Spirit has been alive and active in tremendous ways and many of you have responded with great love and generosity to Almighty God in being open to His Divine Will. It was so readily apparent during Msgr. McGee's talk on Good vs Evil in October, and your generous spirit certainly manifested itself during Thanksgiving with the outpouring of love and donations of time and food to feed anyone and everyone that wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with the parish.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family;
These past days of Forty Hour devotions were meant to help each of us to hear that call once again and to recognize that the Lord Jesus is persistently and lovingly knocking at the door of our heart for greater access to our lives. I encourage all of us to increase our time of daily prayer.
If at all possible, make daily mass a priority. You will discover the changing power of God's Word at Holy Mass. Make plans for a good and complete confession; our parish Penance service will be next Sunday, December 15 at 7:00 pm. It will not be possible to truly be open to the power of Christmas, unless we examine our hearts and let go of our sinfulness. Perhaps our mediocrity or laziness or greed or lust or perverse anger needs to relinquish to the Bridegroom who the Church cries out "Come Lord Jesus".READ MORE
Dear Parish Family:
There may be too much to say in this letter with Thanksgiving just over, the First Sunday of Advent is upon us and the start of Forty Hours of Eucharistic Devotion. I have been happy to share this bulletin space with our other clergy and staff, who are working hard for the Kingdom of God. We are blessed to have all of them! They want to share with you what is going on from their view of parish life. I think they have been doing that well. This makes our parish life so much richer; having all the gifts and talents of so many people working to advance the mission of Jesus right here in Flemington.
What we are about to celebrate this coming week is the uniting glue of everything we do at St. Magdalen's: We will gather around our Eucharistic Lord and give Him honor, praise and worship. Every activity in our parish comes to a halt in order to provide some intentional time of reflection, prayer, praise and worship of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. The more I live my life as a priest and as a man who has decided to follow Christ, the more I realize how important sincere, sustained and open prayer before the Lord really is. Unless I am having a regular conversation with Christ and being united with Him in Holy Communion and going to regular confession, I find my energy waning for all the right things. I too, get distracted by so many demands on my time, deadlines, expectations, and over commitments. When I bring my heart to Him, I find the real reason for my life.READ MORE
Brothers and sisters in Christ:
This past weekend, I experienced the blessing of a retreat for the deacons of the diocese. I know it was what I needed because as I write this it is days later, and I am still going over in my mind many issues that our retreat master brought up. One idea he mentioned that was not new to me, but which is frequently on my mind, is the concept of the "ministry of presence." Let me give you an example or two of what I think this means.
My wife Rosemary is a hero of mine. (And no, it's not because she puts up with me.) She and her staff of four other women teach a program in seven Catholic grammar schools and the New Brunswick middle schools where they present to the children a sense of their own self-worth, the importance of respect, and the value of waiting until they marry before engaging in sexual activity. Rosemary comes home with some real horror stories as you might imagine, but she has been doing this for over two decades now and the positive results in that population over that time have been real. In the New Brunswick schools (and to a lesser extent in the Catholic schools), most of the children come from single parent homes, some do not have permanent homes at all, some are targets of gang recruitment, and many experience other very serious problems at home (abuse) or at school (burnt-out teachers or uncaring administrators – at least in their minds). As a result, over the years Rosemary has seen many of these children look to her staff for support. Many children have confided to her staff deeply personal things they will not tell anyone else – one or two have even shared feelings so desperate that they had contemplated suicide. (Such children are, of course, referred to those who have professional training to deal with these problems.) The point: Rosemary and her staff are not there to be these children's mothers, yet when that is what seems to be called for, they are there...they are present to those children. The children somehow pick up on the fact that here are people who will show them compassion.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family,
St. Magdalen de Pazzi Commission for Evangelization and Adult Catechesis serves a mission of proclaiming the gospel to all people. This mission is broad based: it applies equally to those who do not know Jesus; to Catholics who have perhaps cooled or drifted from a life of prayer and Sacraments to the extent that they have become less than vigorous in their friendship with Jesus; and to steadfast faithful Catholics who could use rejuvenation and strengthening of their life in Christ.
Currently two commission activities are well established, and two are in their initial formative stage.
One of the signature activities the Commission regularly sponsors is Scripture study. We are excited to present the Winter/Spring study "Psalms" beginning January, 2014. In addition, "Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Lively Virtues" with Fr. Robert Barron will commence in February as our Lenten study. Please visit www.stmagdalen.org and the bulletin for additional information in December and January. Certain Bible study programs are repeated as more people come to realize the value of Sacred Scripture as being fundamental to understanding their faith. In the future we hope to add new courses in Church History and the Epistles of St. Paul.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family,
It's an exciting time in history to be Catholic. While there seems to be no end in sight to the bad news we see day after day in the news, there also presents a tremendous door of opportunity for a Catholic voice. The question that remains is this: will that voice be heard? And will the language of that voice be understood by today's secular culture? God has called all Catholics to reach out to others with the timeless gospel of Jesus Christ and to learn how to do that in a way the culture around us can understand and respond to. But let's be honest. The reality is that the vast majority of Catholics in the United States are not inclined to share their faith with others. Pope Paul VI confronted this issue head-on in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelization in the Modern World, when he stated:
"We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church. It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present day society make all the more urgent. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize. . ."READ MORE
Dear Parish Family,
Our Youth Ministry exists to help parish high schoolers to be excited about being Catholic and to continue their journey in the Catholic Faith in the years after their Confirmation. Youth Ministry seeks to provide solid Catholic formation for teenagers so that they may be true "messengers" of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
In order to fulfill this mission, we offer a variety of activities to demonstrate to our high schoolers that our faith not only exists in the pews at St. Magdalen's but also out in the world around us:
With October having been "Respect Life" month, we focused on the value of life. On Saturday, October 19th, a group of about 10 teens and 7 adults participated in a service project to help clean up a previously vacant convent in Phillipsburg that Life Choices will use for "Grandma's House," a place where child care and housing will be available to women who have nowhere else to go. We spent the day scraping peeling paint, taking down wallpaper, scrubbing floors, and cleaning windows in order to prepare the building for the necessary renovations to make it a home. At our October Youth Night in the parish center, we discussed the difficult topic of the Death Penalty and what our Catholic faith teaches us about human dignity.READ MORE