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.


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.


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.


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.


A Compassionate and Merciful Savior

12-31-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Because the Celebrations of Christmas and New Year's are both on Monday, the Sunday scheduling and celebration of various feasts are off kilter. The Liturgical Calendar was drawn up and based on ideal time and space. We all know that the placing of Feasts and Holy days is meant to inspire in us to hopes and dreams as people of faith who celebrate the great moments of God-with-us each year. As hardy New Englanders, we roll with what we get. The weather for the last two weeks in particular has made us remember that life is adjusting and accepting the reality of time and space. At this point we bundle up on certain days, we watch where we walk because of ice and we keep going in life.


Reflections on Christmas Mass at Dawn

12-24-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Did you realize that there are three special Masses that are celebrated with the Feast of Christmas? They are very thematic to the time of night or day. If we were a monastic institution, then all three Masses would be celebrated for us and with us. Each Mass has a special theme and it is connected to the great divine mystery of the God who became Flesh and dwelt among us, namely the Birth of Jesus Christ, truly God and truly human.


Christmas Plans

12-17-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary's,

Next weekend, December 23-24-25, Saturday-Sunday and Monday are confusing days for all of us with Christmas as a Monday celebration. A civil holiday on a Monday is usually quite nice for everyone, except for Christmas. Most folks would rather have the day off before Christmas and then the day afterwards, not two days in a row before it. Christmas Day being on Monday may also cause a great deal of confusion for regular church-going people. Some folks may wonder: "Do I have to go to Mass for Sunday? Does Sunday morning count for Christmas? Does Sunday evening (Christmas Eve) count for Sunday and Christmas? If I do not go two times, have I failed in my faith? Can I go to Mass on Saturday and on Monday, then what about Sunday? There are all sorts of combinations and confusions that exist. In fact, among our bishops and also canon lawyers there are many various opinions over what is "required." Various bishops disagree with a more common opinion and are making exceptions; various canon lawyers strongly disagree with each other. When legitimate authority and its legal experts disagree, you know there is true confusion. So the following is my insight. When legitimate authority and church canon lawyers disagree, then a Pastor 's insight and decision becomes a deciding influence.


Make Ready the Way of the Lord

12-10-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Our scripture readings this weekend are telling us that Christmas never really comes to an end! Great News indeed! Our message in this week's passages leads us to conclude that the story of Christ has not come to an end, that God's concern for us is no less evident now today than over two thousand years ago. The message of today's liturgy is clear: "Get ready!" "Christmas is not too far off!"


Waiting is Not Enough

12-03-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Advent always reminds me of how some people are early, some are on time and some are always late. Many people spend a great deal of time waiting for others. This Sunday we start a special period of time of waiting, the Season of Advent. Let us face it: we cannot solve the problem of people who are always late. For various reasons, they have a need to be always late. As a side note, it is revelatory that they do not miss their plane flights or Amtrak trains when they travel, but the rest of the world is always waiting for them. We know that Advent is the Church's time of vigilance and waiting. Let's take this Advent time and make it a time to be productively getting ready. Let's get ourselves ready for a very special coming. After all, as Christian believers, we really have nothing - absolutely nothing - better to do.


The Irresistible Power of Loving Compassion

11-26-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

"Dear God!" I said this past week a few different times. I just realized that this Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church year and that next weekend we begin the Season of Advent with Christmas just 4 weeks later. Did we not just have Easter a few weeks ago? I clearly remember July 4th as just 2 to 3 weeks ago. Time moves, and moves, and then moves some more. I know when I was in early elementary school time took a long while to pass, but as I move through the years as an adult, times passes way too quickly. I hope that the passage of time and my life experiences have helped me to become more philosophic and a better person.


Giving Thanks

11-19-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

I have been thinking about the three days in our Parish last weekend and what went on. Are you aware that over 6000, yes - six thousand (!), people were at our church and attended various Masses and Services? That was an extraordinary weekend for our Parish. Are you aware that over two hundred - yes, well over 200 (!) volunteers were involved in all these events? In our Parish we had daily Masses, Funeral Mass, 3 Masses with Confirmation and 6 Sunday Masses and Baptisms.


Tending Our Circle of Light

11-12-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The Sacrament of Confirmation:

This weekend we welcome Bishop Robert Reed, West Regional Bishop of our Archdiocese. He will be offering the Holy Eucharist and Offering the Sacrament of Confirmation to almost 230 of our young people. May they be infused with the Holy Spirit so that they will live each day in the Lights and the Ways of the Lord Jesus. Holy Spirit, come upon them. Amen!


Humility, Compassion and Service

11-05-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

Anyone observing governmental and societal leaders would conclude that the best leaders are models of character. Besides speaking and acting well, they actually live what they talk. We certainly learn in the Gospels that Jesus is truly a great leader. Indeed, he also asks his disciples to lead as he did, by serving.

Our Old Testament this weekend comes from the very short Book of Malachi, whose name means "my messenger." This truly unknown messenger of the Lord had reason to keep a low profile. His message was quite distressing in a very troubled time, the time when the resettlement of Israel after the exile took place. Everything was in confusion and doubt.