Planning for Christmas

10-30-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary’s,

During this past week, a Parishioner looked at me with confusion on his face when I was talking about how Fr. Jack, the Pastoral Staff and I have been trying to plan Christmas Masses and Services for the last 6 weeks. I could not figure out if he just realized how much thought, planning and work it takes to plan for Parish Masses and Events. Or he may belong to the “magic school” that because he thinks it simply happens. Or maybe he could have been horrified to think that Christmas is not that far away and that because of the Pandemic slowdown, he needs to get cracking and start the Christmas Shopping. Whatever it all was, we as the Pastoral Ministry Staff are sensitively, thoughtfully and carefully planning for Christmas at Saint Mary’s. We want to be able to welcome everyone in various ways in light of their decisions and limitations about participation in light of the Pandemic.

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Love God, self, and neighbor

10-25-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

We all as humans share common feelings, such as joy, happiness, sadness, or emptiness. We do not always experience the same events that others do, but the commonality of what joy or sadness or any feeling means or feels like lets us relate to another person in their feelings. We do not have to experience exactly what someone else has experienced to be able to empathize with the feelings people are experiencing or have experienced. We like to think that our personal feelings are singular, whereas in reality they are only singular to us, but in common with the human heart of others.

Our first reading from Exodus notes how God reminds the Israelite people that they were once outsiders. He reminds them of their time in Egypt. He tells them that they know how it feels to be foreigners in a strange land, and therefore they should do nothing against the disadvantaged. That remembrance of those common human feelings should impel them to be careful and respectful in how they treat others who are seen as outsiders.

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The Joys of Technology

10-23-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary’s,

We are blessed that our Parish of Saint Mary’s strong faith and spirit keep us focused on the important things of our lives. We have our faith in Christ to help center us during these difficult and turbulent times. Although many are not able yet to attend Mass on the weekends, many hundreds literally now participate via our Live Stream Masses or the Masses on Catholictv.org. Who would have envisioned that technology could so support our faith? We are also using technology to assist parents with Religious Education for our Young People. Although every student has a book at home, the Directors of Religious Education are also using ZOOM and Webinar Sessions in limited ways for our young people and their parents. Even our Adult Spirituality programs are using technology for enriching and developing people’s faith.

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Give Glory to God

10-18-2020Pastoral ReflectionsGive Glory to God

Sometimes after I finish speaking with someone, I later think if only I had said this or that. Or other times: Why did I not think of that answer yesterday when I was talking? Often I realize that I should have said something more or different. One priest, I know always said, Do not ask me a question when I am standing, I cannot understand or give a good answer. I think as I live a life that this response makes more and more sense to me. In the Gospel passages, Jesus is about the only one who has a corrector good answer or comment when he is asked a question or needs to say something. The rest of the characters in the gospel stories seem to be stymied at times or give incorrect answers.

All through the many, many chapters of the Prophet Isaiah we discover the true greatness of God. We are reminded that not only did God create us and know us intimately, but also this great God of ours is so unbelievably incomprehensible that his glory is greater than anything we know. This means that all the “greatness” we know in this world, whether it be super-wealthy, awesome power, or international fame, could only be accomplished through God’s authority. Thus Paul writes to the Thessalonians that God has created them for great things and that God has the power to transform their lives.

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Men's & Women's Faith Formation

10-16-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary Parish,

The Fall Season moves on in our lives as some important activities re-start with the COVID in place. Our Parish will again be supporting the Men’s and Women’s Faith Formation Programs this year via the media of ZOOM. I invite you to consider involving yourself in this wonderful spiritual enrichment program on one Saturday a month for one hour. Please refer to our parish website to learn more and gain access to the program. You can be part of it from your home this year! Our Religious Education Program for our Young People has also started with a parent friendly approach. The Program will work its way out for everyone. With a little patience and a dab of faith, the various parts of the program will work out fine.

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Clothed in Faith

10-11-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

In the sacred scripture this weekend we are to reflect upon images of banquets (sometimes called dinner parties) and celebrations to come to some meaning and understanding of our relationship with God. The prophet Isaiah in his passage writes that all people, not just the selected and chosen ones, will be invited to a special banquet. It appears that this title “banquet” is inadequate in describing the special celebration that was planned. Isaiah is reminding us that when we remember all of the joy and fun found at the best party we’ve ever been to, we still only have a slight glimpse of the day God has planned. This day, this celebration will be the end of all the hurt, suffering, and sadness we have ever known. This great celebration is in honor of salvation, the victory over death.

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First Communion Masses continue through October

10-09-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary’s,

Our First Communion Mass last Sunday at Noontime was absolutely so spiritual and beautiful. One of my most cherished memories of church in my now long life is my Reception of First Communion. Long ago when I made my First Communion, only parents could attend. With the COVID restrictions, we were able only to invite the young child’s entire household and not the usual cast of thousands.

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Continue the care of the Vineyard

10-04-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

Our first reading this weekend, which comes from the Old Testament from the Book of Isaiah, is a poem or song composed by the prophet about his friend, a vineyard keeper. This composition contains a lot of symbols and has great meaning. The storyline is about his friend, the vineyard keeper, and what can happen. We do not learn right away, but ultimately we discover that this vineyard keeper is God. What happens in the vineyard is important to hear and understand as it has great meaning. His friend the keeper had to first decide what field to use and also to make sure that it was free from rocks and stones and ready for planting. He then had to plant the vines, and in addition, he constructed a vat and tower. The story tells us that he did everything right as a farmer, but that crop did not come out the way it should have. Wild grapes resulted, not finely cultured and luscious grapes. This keeper became really angry and decided to just let it all go back to seed and lay fallow. The field and vineyard would be as it would be.

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Celebration of the Sacrament of First Holy Communion

10-02-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary’s,

During these coming days many wonderful and sacred events are happening at Saint Mary Parish despite the limitations imposed by the COVID Pandemic. Starting this Sunday, October 3 we will be holding First Communions for our 2020 Class at a special Noon Mass. These Communions will continue for the 3 remaining Sundays of October. Each young person is welcome to have his/her own family household(s) in their special bench in our church, and then the family comes forward and witnesses their young one receive the Body of Christ. What a great and blessed occasion it is for them and also for all of us in our parish faith community. We must rejoice that these children whose parents pledged to bring them in the ways of our faith have now prepared them and presented for Holy Communion.

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