It is quite striking in today's Gospel passage how the demon knew exactly who Jesus was. This shrieking cry from the demon is dramatic and clear in its meaning. To hear "I know who you are" about Jesus from a creature of the darkness and evil knocks us off our seats. This demon, which symbolizes for us all that is evil and dark, is admitting that Jesus is the ultimate threat. The basic truth is that the power and good of Christ is greater than darkness or evil. And this is clear to the powers of evil. Sadly, maybe not so much to us.READ MORE
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary Parish,
Despite the cold and snow last week, we can tell that winter is moving on as the light at the end of the day is lengthening. We need simply to put one foot forward at a time, and soon we will be well through February, which begins this Sunday. It is rather stunning to think that the Christmas Season is now far back in the rearview mirror and that Ash Wednesday and Lent 2021 will soon be upon us. The pandemic, the long process of vaccinations, the recent civil disturbance in Washington DC, and the new federal leadership for our country all contribute significantly to our confusion, uncertainly, and burden of living each day. Parents and students, workers and homebound, elderly and young, everyone’s lives are still challenging beyond the usual pressures and strains of life. We are blessed that we have our faith to focus us, direct us, keep us strong, and let us continue our daily life with hope and peace of mind and heart.READ MORE
Pastoral Reflections: Our Old Testament and Gospel readings both tell us about people who instantly accepted the invitation of God. The people of Nineveh responded immediately to Jonah and the disciples accepted the invitation of Jesus right on the spot. Clearly, these readings have a major point for us. The people of Nineveh respond immediately and the disciples, both groups, abandon their work of fishing on the spot. The major point of this is that God expects the same from us. We are expected to seize the Call of God and respond forthwith. The response is supposed to be "right now!"—not: "When I am ready."
Making such a response to the call of God demands us to have faith, but also demands us to be free. Saint Paul in the second reading is advising us that we cannot let the stuff of our life get in the way of responding to God's call. When what is in our life keeps us from hearing and responding to God, we are not "free." We are weighed down or overwhelmed or stuck behind a wall. We must have and use our stuff of life for God.READ MORE
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Mary's,
This past week held a critical and important event in our country’s history and life. We have inaugurated a new president and vice-president in the worst of times in our civil society. The events in Washington D. C. of the last two weeks tell us in the most painful, violent, and dramatic terms and actions that our nation is facing serious and grave difficulties. Cardinal Seán’s recommendation is ever so correct: that the Prayer of Saint Francis should be our prayer and motivation at this time. We must be instruments of justice and peace. All of us must pray for our country and its elected and appointed leaders to help us to face in justice what is wrong, admit responsibility, and then be reconciled for the good of us all.READ MORE
The major message of the readings this weekend is that the call of God is actually directed to each of us and each of us must respond. We must remember and appreciate that each of us is called, but none of us is called alone. We have faith that is personal, but also communal.
In reading the Old Testament with its many stories of people called by God, we learn that God summoned the leaders of Israel in both dramatic and quiet ways. Moses was called by the voice of God from out of a burning bush; the prophet Isaiah discovered his vocation in a fiery vision in the temple. In our first reading, we learn of a different invitation from God, one that is most likely similar to our own. We must remember that Hannah, Samuel's mother, was unceasingly pleading with God for a son and God answered her with the child Samuel. Our reading for this weekend begins with the young man Samuel in the temple when he hears a voice calling out. Eventually, Samuel does come to understand he is being called by God. He then listens, speaks, and then finally he obeys. Samuel is the first prophet during the time of the monarchy.READ MORE
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary’s,
Although our Church in our Liturgical Year has returned to “Ordinary Time” after the Christmas Season, this present “time” is in fact extraordinary for all of us. We continue to face the Pandemic, and in addition in our Town of Franklin we are a Red Zone, and also we are all reeling and reacting to the great tumult and upset in Washington DC with the riot and siege of the Capitol Building with the unfortunate deaths and desecration of our many national signs and symbols.READ MORE
I am certain that we all are unaware that in the earliest centuries of Church life the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord was celebrated as the most important manifestation of God's saving power. We all tend to think that Christmas was the greatest and most important feast, or perhaps it was Easter and the Feast of the Resurrection. This simply is not so. This feast of the Baptism of the Lord stood at a very special point in being significant. It is clearly obvious because all three of the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke have the Baptism of the Lord as the central beginning event of their story. Perhaps some also add in the stories of the early years of Je-sus, but they are not central to the theme and message of the Gospels. Even John's Gospel, "the very different one," also makes the Baptism of Jesus a most important and watershed event. Interestingly Mark in his Gospel does not directly tell us of the Baptism but instead tells us that the heavens are torn open and that an astounding message is given. Mark clearly wants us to recognize the great significance of this event. He wants us to know that God has answered the deep yearning and searching of Israel for a Messiah. Indeed, does he not tell us that Jesus himself is "the favored one"?READ MORE
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary,
We have stepped into the New Year and must continue to put our faith in the Lord in these most troubling of times for our country and for our people who continue to struggle during this Pandemic. We must ask our God to fill the hearts and minds of our leaders on all levels of government to always put the good of others before themselves. We must all remember all of us must respect the laws of our country and work together for our democracy. Ideological and political polarization is destroying the good of our “common good”. Our country needs our prayers said faithfully these days for all of us to move past the violence of Wednesday. We must condemn the violence which has taken place and work peacefully for our country’s future.READ MORE
During the Fourth Century the Feast of the Epiphany developed in the Latin Rite (more commonly called by us the "Catholic Church") from a Celebration in the Holy Land that began much, much earlier in time. It took place on January 5 in the darkness of evening and went through the sunlight of the day of January 6th. The Western Church, the Roman Church, celebrated Christmas on December 25th, but adopted over time this custom of celebrating Christmas on January 6th. Both feasts had the theme of "Light coming into the world." Soon the West called their second celebration "Little Christmas" and titled it "the Feast of Epiphany," meaning appearance or manifestation. Christmas in a sense celebrates the winter solstice and "Little Christmas" celebrates following the light of the brightest star in the sky. Both mean and celebrate the great coming of divine light into our world. There is in many ways a twelve day "Festival of Lights" celebrated in our Tradition.
In the story of the Epiphany is the appearance of what we now say are three Kings, or Magi. Various stories throughout the early church had as many as 12 Kings or Magi. Adding camels and dromedaries and royalty from far off mysterious lands who bring exotic gifts creates a wondrous and dreamy story of Christmas for everyone. It is interesting that Matthew is the only Gospel writer who tells us this story. We believe he does so because this story has elements that allow the early Jewish converts to Christianity to connect the Hebrew Scriptures with the story of Jesus Christ.READ MORE
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Mary's,
This letter is meant mainly to wish you a Happy and Holy New Year.
It is stunning to recognize that Christmas Day 2020 has already happened. The Church celebrates the Season of Christmas all the way through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (this year – January 10, 2021), but most of us conclude the Season with New Year’s Day. Although this year because of the Pandemic just about nothing was as we wanted, I hope that you and your loved ones shared some moments of laughter and love.READ MORE
Have you noticed as you look at TV, the print media, and also on the social platforms that we always see these absolutely perfect photos and advertisements of stunningly perfect families in perfectly decorated and spotless homes with just the right amount of snow seen through the picture window behind them? We know that we can never have our home and family photographed liked that perfect family. Instead, we are blessed by the invitation from our God to believe and follow Him and that this invitation is to be a family of compassion and understanding, of kindness and forgiveness, not a family of visual perfection.
In our Gospel reading for today we hear the very ordinary story of an ordinary set of new parents who are trying to take their religious responsibilities seriously. They go off to the Temple to fulfill their observance of the holy law of Israel. When they get to the Temple, they bump into Anna and Simeon, both of whom reveal to us an insight into Luke's reason for including this particular story in his Gospel.READ MORE
Our first scripture passage this weekend tells a most significant story about King David who was the great power in the entire world, at least so he and others thought. He had an impressive military career, which had resulted in a peaceful time for Israel with prosperity for its people. He was at the very pinnacle of success. He had placed the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, the capital city, and now in this passage spoke out loud about how he would like to do something special for God. He decides he needs to build God a worthy temple.
But this is not what God wanted. According to the prophet Nathan, David had gotten his and God's roles confused. God is to care for David in ways greater than David can dream. If we were to count the times, we would learn that God told David that God is the source of strength, triumph, and success. David does not realize that all power comes from God, not a human person such as a mere king. Rather than David building a "house" for God, God will instead give Da-vid a "house," a kingdom that will stand firm forever.READ MORE
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary’s
This past Sunday, the Third Sunday in Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” in Latin and in English it is the command to “Rejoice”. This name is because the Feast of Christmas, the Birth of Jesus Christ is only slightly more than one week away. This year is certainly different for this wonderful celebration for all of us, both religiously and personally. The ways that we cherish and treasure Christmas have to be transformed or suspended for this year. However, the meaning of the Incarnation of God made Flesh still remains for us and can inspire and motivate our lives. The beauty of the Christmas Crib can warm our hearts during these coming days and also provide light for our steps and journey during this coming New Year of 2021.READ MORE
Often when looking at a landscape picture, whether it is in traditional oil or watercolor paint from or now an acrylic or photographic form, we often see a rather pleasant or edifying scene, but when we look much more closely we can discover and recognize all sorts of meaning because of secret symbolic elements in the scene. What you see is often more than what you see if you really observe closely.
The scripture at our Mass on this Third Sunday of Advent also invites us to open our eyes to look much more closely and discover what is really there. Once we have seen what we are asked to discover, it becomes ever so obvious. We may wonder why we did not see it all immediately. We are to see in the vignettes of today's scripture, that although Jesus has come in his incarnation Birth and that He will return again at the end of time, He is also here among us now in the lives of people round about us.READ MORE
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary's,
In this letter I am publishing for the first time our Christmas Eve and Morning Schedule of Services. This year all of us aware that this Christmas and the accompanying holidays are different from the past. In so many ways we will mourn the loss of Christmases past, especially those that we hold closer in our hearts and the one we wish we could have this year. We also know that some folks also mourn a special person who has gone before us. This year all of us are invited by the Child of the Christmas Crib to welcome that special Light which He brings into our world and to share that with others as best as we can. Our celebrations may be different this year, but our faith can be as strong and our hearts can be touched by the beauty of this Season of Light.READ MORE
On this Second Sunday in Advent, the scripture readings at Mass are telling us something very, very important. The message is clear: the soon to be celebrated Feast of Christmas is a celebration that acknowledges that the story of Christ has not come to an end, in that God's love, commitment, and concern for us are no less evident or real than they were over two thousand years ago. The message of the scripture at Mass is very obvious when we read or hear the words and then ponder them. Get ready in the coming weeks for the Birth of Jesus Christ.
we again bear proclaimed in our church in the first reading's powerful words recorded by Isaiah that our mighty and kindly shepherd is coming and we need to ready ourselves for this long-awaited event. As it is directed in this scripture; we must straighten out our crookedness, smooth our rough edges, broaden our narrow-mindedness, and most especially fill in our gaps with grace. Certainly, at that new point, we will be ready to see and receive "the glory of the lord."READ MORE
Dear Parishioner and Friends of Saint Mary’s,
I hope all of you and your loved ones had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. This year is a different year and so we must all make the best of what we have before us. Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Certainly this year we can understand how much we must be grateful for in our lives. The Pandemic has made us think, feel, see, perceive and reflect upon life in many different ways.READ MORE