Pastor Letter November 22

Dear Parish Family,

This week we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom of God and Father Rohr, OFM reflects here just what this means as we end our liturgical year and prepare to meet our Lord at the end of our lives.

“Jesus announced, lived, and inaugurated for history a new social order. He called it the Reign or Kingdom of God and it became the guiding image of his entire ministry. The Reign of God is the subject of Jesus’ inaugural address (see Mark 1:15, Matthew 4:17, and Luke 4:14–30), his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), and the majority of his parables. Once this guiding vision of God’s Will became clear to Jesus, which seems to have happened when he was about thirty and alone in the desert, everything else came into perspective. In fact, Matthew’s Gospel says, “From then onwards” (4:17), Jesus began to preach.

In order to explain this concept, it may be helpful to first say what it is not: the “Kingdom” is not synonymous with heaven. Many Christians have mistakenly thought that the Reign of God is “eternal life,” or where we go after we die. That idea is disproven by Jesus’ own prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

“Thy Kingdom come” means very clearly that God’s realm is something that enters into this world, or, as Jesus puts it, “is close at hand” (Matthew 10:7). We shouldn’t project it into another world. What we discover in the New Testament, especially in Matthew’s Gospel, is that the Kingdom of God is a new world order, a new age, a promised hope begun in the teaching and ministry of Jesus—and continued in us.

I think of the Kingdom of God as the Really Real (with two capital Rs). That experience of the Really Real—the “Kingdom” experience—is the heart of Jesus’ teaching. It’s Reality with a capital R, the very bottom line, the pattern-that-connects. It’s the goal of all true religion, the experience of the Absolute, the Eternal, what is.

God gives us just enough tastes of God’s realm to believe in it and to want it more than anything. In the parables, Jesus never says the Kingdom is totally now or totally later. It’s always now-and-not-yet. When we live inside the Really Real, we live in a “threshold space” between this world and the next. We learn how to live between heaven and earth, one foot in both worlds, holding them precious together.

We only have the first fruits of the Kingdom in this world, but we experience enough to know that it’s the only thing that will ever satisfy us. Once we have had the truth, half-truths do not satisfy us anymore. In its light, everything else is relative, even our own life.”

On Thanksgiving Day, Mass will be offered at 9AM. The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving. Please join us to give Thanks to God for all the blessings we have received from God this past year. It is good for our soul to give thanks especially in difficult times. As it says in the Psalms, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.”

For our table to yours, blessings on your and your love ones.

Fr. Tom Devery

 

Pastor Letter October 4

Dear Parish Family,

October is a month dedicated to Our Blessed Mother Mary and the especially the Rosary. The Rosary is our weapon for peace. It is accompanying Mary was we encounter Jesus in his life, death and Resurrection. We pray the Hail Mary ten times in each decade. This allows us to meditate on the mystery of Joy, Light, Sorrow and Glory. Beginning with the Creed and the three Hail Mary’s for the virtues of Faith, Hope and Love; we are uniting ourselves more deeply into salvation history.

The Joyful Mysteries are: The Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

The Luminous Mysteries brings us to encounter Jesus in his public life: The Baptism of the Lord, The Miracle of the Wedding Feast of Cana, The Call of the Kingdom with it’s call the conversion and the Institution of the Eucharist as a sign of the Paschal Mystery.

The Sorrowful Mysteries plunges us into the suffering of Christ in His Passion: The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning of Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross and the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.

The Glorious Mysteries focuses on the Redemption Christ has won for us. The Resurrection from the dead, The Ascension into heaven, The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and The Coronation of Mary as Queen of heaven and earth.

During this month of October, the Church upholds many saints, whose lives are heroic examples of virtue, faith and discipleship. On October 1st we celebrate the Carmelite saint, Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Her “Little Way” of living in simplicity is renounced for growing in Holiness.

On October 4th is the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, He founded the Franciscan Order and is the patron for animals, ecology, all ministering with the poor. He revolutionized the 11th Century founding an order of Friars Minor, the Poor Clares and the Third Order of secular laypeople seeking to follow the Gospel in holy joy. Francis went so far as to speak with the Moslem Sultan and was admired for his dedication to God. Many other great saints will be remembering in the Church: The Holy Guardian Angels, Saint Teresa of Jesus, the Carmelite Reformer, Saint John Paul II.

A saint in the making has a quote filling us with hope, it’s almost prophetic and it comes from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

The Church is like Noah’s arc that was full of both clean and unclean animals. It must have been an unholy smell, and yet it was carrying eight persons to salvation. The world today is tearing up the photographs of a good society, a good family, a happy individual personal life. But the Church is keeping the negatives. And when the moment comes when the world wants a reprint, we will have them.

I will end by asking that people who do come to attend Mass in person when wearing masks be sure that both the mouth and nose are covered. One can contaminate oneself by not covering the nose and just using the mask as a chin strap. When approaching the priest for reception of Holy Communion, please keep the mask on in place and when Jesus is place in your hand, turn away from the priest before receiving Him. Thank you for this. This recommendation came from some medical personnel who are watching and concerned that we are not unsafe and careless.

We apologize for not having a gathering for the blessing of animals this year. On Wednesday, weather permitting at 7PM in the rectory parking lot we will have a recitation of the rosary, a Mass and Anointing of the Sick. As in August we only ask is that you space yourselves 6 feet and bring your own folding chair. This will be a special Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

God bless and keep you safe.

Father Tom Devery

 

 

Pastor Letter September 6th

Dear Parish Family,

On this Labor Day weekend, we remember all the bread winners of every family and also those who have lost their jobs during this pandemic. We thank God for the gift of work and the God given abilities to glorify Him in what we do. Our work reminds us that we co-operators with God in the process of building up His kingdom on earth.

Last week, Jesus asked the question: What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his/ her soul. This week I would like to share with you Father Richard Roher’s reflection on the true self.

The thing that we have to face is that life is as simple as this. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story, it is true. —Thomas Merton

I learned the terms “True Self” and “false self” from Thomas Merton (1915‒1968). These are words he used to clarify Jesus’ teaching of dying to self or “losing ourselves to find ourselves” (see Mark 8:35). Merton rightly recognized that it was not the body that had to “die” but the “false self” that we do not need anyway. The false self—or what I am calling lately the “separate self,” disconnected from Divine Love—is simply a substitute for our deepest truth. It is a useful and even needed part of ourselves, but it is not all of us; the danger is when we think we are only our small or separate self. Our attachment to the false self must die to allow the True Self—our basic and unchangeable identity in God—to live fully and freely.

Thomas Merton said that the True Self should not be thought of as anything different than life itself—but not my little life—the Big Life. [1] Franciscan philosopher John Duns Scotus (c. 1266‒1308) said that the human person is not different or separate from Being itself. This is not the little being that you and I get attached to and take too seriously, but Universal Being, “the One in whom we live, and move, and have our being,” as Paul put it to the Athenians (Acts 17:28). We Franciscans call this “the univocity of all being” (speaking of all beings with one consistent voice), “that all may be one” (John 17:21).

When you’ve gotten too comfortable with your separate self and you call it Life, you will get trapped at that level. You will hold onto it for dear life—because that’s the only life you think you have! Unless someone tells you about the Bigger Life, or you’ve had a conscious connection with the deepest ground of your being, there’s no way you’re going to let go of your separate self. But your attachment to that separate self must “die” or “the single grain of wheat remains just a single grain” (John 12:24).

Your True Self is Life and Being and Love. Love is what you were made for and love is who you are. When you live outside of Love, you are not living from your true Being or with full consciousness. The Song of Songs says that “Love is strong as Death. . . . The flash of it is a flash of fire, a flame of YHWH” (8:6, Jerusalem Bible). Your True Self is a little tiny flame of this Universal Reality that is Life itself, Consciousness itself, Being itself, Love itself, Light and Fire itself, God’s very self. – Father Richard Roher, OFM

Next weekend Our Lady Star of the Sea School will celebrate First Holy Communion on September 12-13. May God bless our new 3rd graders who have waited a long time for this special day. We are sad that the restrictions of our church in place limiting the number of people who can attend and yet with live streaming, family and friends can join in offering Masses with them. Please continue to pray for all our teachers and students as we return to school for the 2020 -2021 academic year.

Father Tom Devery

 

 

Pastor Letter August 31

Dear Parish Family,

As we round out the last licks of summer, we listen to the lament of Jeremiah the Prophet this Sunday. He was indeed reluctant to become the mouth- piece of God, speaking His word to the people whether they wanted to hear it or not. His famous quote, “You duped me O Lord, and I let myself be duped”. Indeed, he suffered greatly from the reaction of people to God’s message and yet he acknowledged that although he did not want to speak in God’s name anymore; he recognized the deep fire within his heart burning. This dilemma is shared by many people these days. We are tired of this hand washing, mask wearing, socially distant world. We find ourselves still anxious and frustrated with the fall out from Covid-19. And yet we strive to keep our faith in Him high and be faithful during this hard summer. When the chips are down, we can repeat what Father Basil says all the time: “God is good, all the time and all the time, God is good

Saint Paul also acknowledges the suffering and toll it takes to be faithful in difficult time. “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, and pleasing and perfect.” The key here is discernment. I believe we need to ask the Lord for wisdom and understanding to live through these days. We don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of anxiety, or lashing anger, or biting criticism of everything. It seems its so easy to react rather than respond. Prayer and trust in Jesus sharpens the saw of discernment to cut through the garbage of the news we ingest.

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is from Saint Matthew. Saint Peter answered the question correctly last Sunday to Jesus, “Who do you say I am” and now this week once again he blows it. He refuses to accept Jesus’ prediction of His passion and death. Peter exclaims, “God forbid, Lord!” How true to form we are to this attitude when we are asked to sacrifice and deal with loss and linger with suffering. Taking up our cross is extremely difficult and yet isn’t there down the line, maybe years later untold gifts in what we have endured. It’s like Steven Colbert, late night talk show host on CBS, admitting that he nearly lost his faith and his mind when his dad and two brothers were killed in an airplane crash. That tragedy broke his heart and it took a long while to grieve and deal with that loss but then he slowly began to discover all the blessings that God had given him through that experience. “Every time you open up a present, it doesn’t have to be good”. This paradox comes many times in our lives and when we embrace the cross, and take up our crosses, we discover the face of Jesus.

Many people are reevaluating what’s essential and important in their lives during this pandemic. If you lost your job, or a loved one and finances are hurting, can we trust that we will come through this bitter or better. I am encountering people coming back to the Sacrament of Penance after many years. It’s certainly a time for repentance, soul searching and finding the God of the cross and Resurrection, who never left us. What a gift we have in the merciful touch of Jesus. May I invite you to prepare for this upcoming academic year with a clean slate and renew and refresh your soul. Let the new year begin with Jesus leading the way.

Blessings and Peace,

Father Tom Devery

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Shared Homily

Pastor Letter August 23

Dear Parish Family,

We are in the home stretch before school opens and there is so much happening these days. I made a video update for our website and invite you all to review it.  I am posting the Pandemic Mass Schedule for the month of September. Weekday Masses will remain at 9AM and Saturday / Sunday Schedule will be 9AM and 11AM and 7PM. Baptisms will resume at 2PM with a maximum of 6 babies and their families.

After every Mass, Funeral, Baptism, Memorial Mass, and Wedding, we sanitize the Church. We are able to do that in about fifteen minutes. There is a jet pack sprayer that sanitizes the pews and the doors of our church.

Last week there was a meeting with all the priests on Zoom in which Cardinal Dolan and the Chancery Officials told us that we can now have a maximum of 33% attendance at Mass. During this pandemic the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holydays is suspended. We do encourage you to attend if you are able. Many people have been able to tune in on our Live Stream for Mass. Every time we offer Mass we recite the prayer for Spiritual Communion and for all who are self- quarantined, or frail or feel in any way that they are compromised the graces of attending Mass and the reception of Holy Communion is available to you; even you cannot physically be present to receive. Again, thank you for your generous support to our parish during this time.

We will continue to have Shared Homilies and Updates in video on our website.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available every Saturday from 3:30 until 5PM. If anyone is in need of Reconciliation or the Sacrament of the Sick, they may call the rectory for an appointment. Several people have been preparing for surgery and we priests have met you in the barbecue area outside our rectory for the reception for the Anointing of the Sick. Also, we have been attending to those who are homebound.

The School and Gym is sanitized and looks like a hospital.  There are no posters, papers and with desks set six feet apart and spreading out over the gymnasiums, O’Mara Hall and the D’Amato Room, we are going to be in good shape in September. The student enrollment is up to 650 students and our teachers have been given the green light should they wish to wear scrubs. Having extra people on staff to take incoming temperatures, wipe down door handles and surfaces throughout the day is part of the regiment to keep the school squeaky clean. This all takes time, given the amount of children with blended learning and the volume of space to be cleansed each day. .

We are sad that we cannot have in classroom Religious Education classes during this pandemic. Having remote learning on line is no substitute for the faith taught and caught by our dedicated catechists. Hopefully this will only be one semester.

In his book, Who Do You That I Am, Cardinal Dolan writes about the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

I once met a group of young people years ago and posited this question: “Who do you think has a more exalted uplifting noble view of sex: Playboy founder Hugh Hefner or the Catholic Church?

          Everyone has a different viewpoint. But after about an hour: a consensus seemed to have developed that Hugh Hefner’s promiscuous “anything goes” mentality about sex had led to disastrous consequences, such as the objectification of women, the reduction of sex to a contact sport instead of an act of love, abortion, venereal disease, AIDS, divorce, and the disappearance of reverence, mystery and romance from sex.

          In the Bible, God compared His love for us to the passionate attraction of a young man courting a beautiful young woman, and He told us that His relationship with us is as strong, romantic, and tender as that between a husband and a wife. Saint Paul tells us that Christ loves His Church (us) just as a groom loves his bride.

          The group ended agreeing: If you want a freeing exciting, respectful, uplifting approach to sex, look to the Church and not Hugh Hefner!

          Sexual love between a man and a woman in marriage is an actual hint of the love God has for us and as such is a tremendous gift. This gift is freeing, not enslaving, selfless, not selfish, giving life, not just satisfying and urge. As with any gift, it requires care, reverence, and proper use.

          I want to honor all couples who are a Sacramental witness to the love of God in this world. Be blessed during these remaining days of summer!

Father Tom Devery

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time Shared Homily

August 19th Update

Pastor Letter August 9

Dear Parish Family,

May the Lord give you peace! On July 31st I am delighted to announce that the catechumens and candidates for the Easter Sacraments of RCIA, (The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) finally were administered and we welcomed 9 new Catholics fully initiated into the Catholic Church. They are Michael Dorillo, Rachel Fishman, Krystal Furiam Ruby Moczdkowski, Frank Persico, Amanda Squeo, Luke Stangarone, Amanda Willis, and Dr. Dean Jepson.

Ordinarily, they would have been welcomed at the Easter Vigil last April; but due to the COVID-19 virus quarantine it couldn’t happen. So, on last Friday evening at 7PM 2 men and 7 women along with their godparents and sponsors and family and friends joyfully participated in the Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion. I want to express my sincere appreciation to Joe Limeri, Agnes Zuffante, John Amodio and Carol Ordy, these parishioners are part of the year long team that helped prepare our newest Catholics for their commitment to Christ. On August 15th we will have 15 young people making the sacrament of Confirmation who have traveled a similar route. I have been given permission to Confirm and this is a great honor.

On August 15th, next Saturday, the Feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother, this feast day will occur but it is not a holyday of obligation since the pandemic and the fact it falls on a Saturday all across the USA. This will be a milestone for one of our parish workers. For the last several years Katie Nicosia, while attending college worked in our parish office in the evenings and on weekends answering the door and the phone as a receptionist. This past year she entered the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm. These are the sisters who staff Carmel Richmond Nursing Home, Ozanam Home, Queens, Saint Patrick’s Home, Bronx and Mary Manning Walsh Home in Manhattan.

She had been contemplating religious life for a long time. The Motherhouse for the Carmelite Sisters is situated in Germantown, New York. This is in Hudson County along the Hudson River.  She was the only one in her class, there were three other novices in the group before her. During this past year, she has been in formation. She did work at the motherhouse and then went on a field assignment to Saint Patrick’s Nursing Home in Framingham, Massachusetts. She loved meeting the elderly and sadly she was quarantined to her convent because many of the residents did come down with COVID -19 and some of them died. This was heart breaking, however her ministry to the elderly will involve this prayer ministry to accompany many residents right up to the moment they pass into eternal life. It has been a most unusual year for her.

Just the other day she received her name in religion. She was known in the world as Katie Nicosia, and from now on she will be called, Sister Michelle Elizabeth Marie, O. Carm.. Please keep Katie in your prayers as she accepts her habit with a white veil and begins her two- year novitiate on August 15.

In his writings, “Who do you say that I am,” Cardinal Dolan writes a reflection for August 2nd that was thought provoking.

When I was studying Church history, I took a course titled “The Church and the French Revolution,” and my professor lectured on how “secularism” began to be the new value system for the Western world. He defined secularism as our ability to get along just fine without God, our attempt to find all meaning and purpose in earthly life and to our drive to restrict faith and religion to the private, personal sphere. To the question, “Is this all there is?” secularism replies, “Yes”.

I am afraid many of us have become secularists.

A secular society celebrates Mardi Gras but not Lent, Christmas without Advent, and Halloween without All Saints Day and presumes salvation without conversion and repentance.

The syndicated columnist Cal Thomas once wrote that contemporary society is still worshipping a golden calf, just as the Israelites did at the foot of Mount Sinai. “Many prefer,” he observed “to worship things and are slaves to feelings, this dulling their senses to the wisdom of the ages.”  He wrote that everywhere there is a “rejection of what previous generations called social norms, decency, virtues, values, propriety, modesty, integrity, and standards” and that “materialism has dulled our senses to anything that does not produce pleasure.”

Secularism, idolatry, materialism in our values, our priorities, our behavior, and our speech. We Catholics don’t want to be “just like everyone else”.

The gospel challenges us to change the world, our world with His grace. In prayer he multiplies His gifts to His people, and divides fears and conquers wars.

A blessed August!

Fr. Tom Devery

 

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time Shared Homily