The Journey of Lent is Like Tending a Garden

02-11-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

I notice after the 4 PM Mass on Saturdays that there is now a decent amount of light. Now after days of darkness and long nights, we can now look forward to springtime when, several minutes at a time, each day lengthens. Yes, on Groundhog Day it was announced that there were at least 6 more weeks of winter, but we need to remember we are now halfway through the cold and icy season. My daydreaming and thoughts have now shifted towards my flower gardens.

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The Sacred Mystery of the Kingdom of God

02-04-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Sometimes we are so busy completing what is on our list for each day, that our focus is to get to the end of everything. As a result we often miss the very good and wonderful that is right in front of us. We are engaged in frantic activity that is purely frantic because we fail to enjoy what is going on in the moment in front of us. We race about to get to the future and do not recognize or enjoy the present.

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The Reality of God's Goodness

01-28-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In the Gospel of this weekend, we learn in our selected passage that the authority of Jesus was clearly grasped by the opposition. The dramatic yell from the demon, the spirit of evil, is unmistakable and beyond scary: "I know who you are!" This is to say, "You are the ultimate and absolute threat." Jesus has recognized evil and has taken its power away from it by naming it. And evil as a spirit knows this truth. Evil no longer has any power.

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A Call to Serve the Lord

01-21-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

This weekend our first reading is from the Book of the prophet Jonah and our Gospel is from the Gospel of Mark. These two passages illustrate what an instantaneous and positive response to the message of God can be. The Prophet Jonah has the mission of preaching conversion to so far unrepentant Nineveh. The demand for repentance barely leaves Jonah's lips, and the whole city rises up to obey. The people immediately repent in sackcloth and ashes.

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Accepting the Call of God

01-14-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

We do not realize that God, in fact, summoned the leaders of Israel in various and dramatic ways. Think about it: Moses was summoned for service from a burning bush and also Isaiah's vocation was announced in a fiery vision in the temple. In our Old Testament passage, we learn of a quiet invitation which really is within our normal way of life. From the earlier parts of the Book of Samuel, we know that Samuel's mother, Hannah, had stormed heaven for a child. God, indeed, answered her prayers and in due time she bore a son named Samuel. What Hannah could not have known was that Samuel's birth, which was so special to Hannah and everyone, was also a special gift to Israel.

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Christmas Comes Full Circle

01-07-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The Feast of Epiphany has come to us in an indirect way. Like the famous Magi, this feast came from the East, or often called the Levant in times past. Sometime in the fourth century, a visitor to Israel reported that the Nativity of Christ was celebrated in a special vigil that began in the evening of January 5 and lasted well into the sunrise of the next day, January 6. The Western Latin-speaking Church celebrated Christmas on December 25, it then over time adopted this Eastern celebration called Epiphany (the Greek word meaning to appear to make manifest). We all recognize that both the Feasts of Christmas and Epiphany are celebrations of light: Christmas occurs at the time of the winter solstice and the lengthening of daylight; Epiphany, again in the season of darkness, follows the light of the star and becomes the great "Festival of Lights" that celebrates the dawning of the Light who is Jesus Christ.

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