So much is happening in evangelization and a feeling of total gratitude fills my heart when I ponder all that God is doing. The first of three "Encounter retreats" occurred on February 1 st and was completely Spirit-led. Many on the retreat recalled having an authentic "encounter" with the Lord throughout the day that they had never had before and desired to "have more" going forward. Here is one testimony from one of our young adults about the retreat.
"First, thank you and to all the others who made the retreat happen this past weekend. This was my first retreat and I too felt blessed and honored to have been there. Each of the speakers was right on and I took away a little something important from each. I was also blessed in many other little interactions and conversations that day. Overall, I had a sense of peace throughout the day that I don't often feel in many settings. Moreover, spending all that time in the beautiful chapel with Jesus made for a very sweet day. Much needed."READ MORE
Dear Parish Family,
"Keep Calm and Go to Youth Group"
This saying was given to me on a poster as a Christmas gift from one of the Youth Ministry teens, and it is amazing to me how this phrase, which is a play on the original "Keep Calm and Carry On" from the 1939 motivational poster of the British government, so appropriately describes what attending Youth Ministry can do for a teenager and his/her relationship with God. Attending a Youth Ministry event is not simply coming to hang out in the gym. It is the opportunity to relate to other teenagers in the way that Christ calls us to be in relationship with each other and to see the face of God.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family,
Valentine's Day is this coming Friday. For many of us it is a time to share a special expression of love with those we are close to. As Catholics, we also celebrate St. Valentine who is believed to have been a priest arrested and martyred by Emperor Claudius II for performing marriages for Christian couples secretly during a time of persecution of the Church. Legend has it that he sent letters of encouragement to his fellow Christians signing them: "From Your Valentine."
In light of St. Valentine's ministry, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has designated the week of February 7-14, 2014 as National Marriage Week USA in order to promote the benefits of marriage for men, women, children and society; to celebrate the gift and blessing of marriage; and to affirm and support engaged and married couples. The gift and blessing of marriage is often misunderstood and under-appreciated in our current culture. Jesus, who in Scripture is frequently referred to as the bridegroom and His followers as the bride, has bestowed great dignity on sacramental marriage. In fact, out of compassion for the bride and groom and at the urging of His Blessed Mother, He performed His first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. We ask that you remember all married couples in your prayers during this week, asking our Lord to help them to always be open to the graces of their sacrament as they strive to live out their wedding vows on a daily basis.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family,
Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This feast originated in fourth- century Jerusalem. It later was moved to Antioch and Constantinople where it received the name Hypapante,( meeting), a reference to the encounter that occurs between Jesus and Simeon in the gospel today. In the early Middle Ages, the practice of lighting candles was added to the celebration of the liturgy. This feast has been known by several names: Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 1969 reform of the liturgical calendar restored the title of the Presentation of the Lord.
In 1997, Pope John Paul ll, established the annual celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated on February 2nd. In the Pope's message to establish this special day of prayer, for men and women who serve the Church and the world in consecrated life, he pointed out how the presentation of Jesus in the Temple was an "eloquent icon" of the total offering of one's life and therefore pre- sented a wonderful occasion to pray for all those who have made such an offering of their lives.READ MORE
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