A Letter from Father Tom April 7th

Dear Parish Family,

Hallelujah! Jesus is Risen from the dead. The Tomb is empty, Jesus is Risen and He is alive in us. We want to shout this out from the very depths of our souls on this wonderful Easter Morning.

However for most of us, this may continue to be ‘A Good Friday Moment” as Cardinal Dolan alluded to on Palm Sunday. We don’t have the church full of people, the beautiful Easter lilies, the bright white vestments, the people all dressed in their Easter finery. With most of the trappings gone, even the very Real Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion, this is a most unique Easter. All this isolation, virtual distancing and checking our phones for texts, emails, downloads. It can be disheartening. And yet somewhere deep in our souls, we can still cry out”Hallelujah”

I often wondered; how do people in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, China, Russia, even the Holy Land, Haiti, Nigeria, Sri Lanka celebrate Easter when there is a war going on. We find ourselves in this “War Time Condition”. The enemy is invisible. It’s a worldwide pandemic. We can think we are New York Strong, tough, compassionate, enduring bravely, yet Easter tells us an important spiritual lesson for our time. It’s not the trappings of worship, family celebration or even all the chocolate bunnies and eggrolling competition that make this happen. It is the undying belief that Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus suffered, died and rose. So will we! We try our best to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, Our Risen Lord. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

For the next 50 days until we celebrate Pentecost we will see over and over again the many accounts of Jesus revealing Himself to the disciples as Risen Lord. He is directing us, like Doubting Thomas, to probe the nail prints in his hands, feet and side. Jesus is walking with us on that road to Emmaus and trying to explain to confused, grieving disciples, how the Scriptures were fulfilled; and then, with great astonishment, they totally realize it is Him in with the breaking of the bread. Their hearts were set on
fire. They saw the Eucharistic Formula of Jesus, blessing the bread, breaking the bread and giving to them his very Risen Self. All this is happening spiritually in your souls this Sunday. Let Jesus come alive as Risen Lord in your souls!

We are not on Holy Communion line, stretching out our hands to receive our God in the Eucharist, but spiritually he never left your soul. Did you leave him? That’s the question. We can become just like the disciples and be so stressed over who has the virus. Or worse still, who died from the virus, and the pain of not being able to properly bury a loved one with consolation or comfort of family and friends is indeed horrible. We are on hold. We ask being asked to wait So how can we cope with cabin fever, not shopping and being out of work, or having to work in risky environments. No one is denying that this is difficult and terrible. On the other hand this. is a time for Easter Faith.

Jesus speaks to our souls “It is I”, “Be Not Afraid”, “Shalom!”. He has conquered sin, death and all suffering. Yes, there is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice. How can I create in these tense times, a spirit of gratitude for the very gift of life and health and compassion? How can I welcome and have space in my heart for self compassion for this awful reality? Give it all to Jesus. Indeed, the real Easter celebration is how we reach out to one another and care for one another in ways that are patient, prayerful, and prudent.

I am praying to God, most especially for all medical personnel, for all military deployed to our city and locally, for all transit workers and essential workers, like people in our grocery stores. I am praying especially for all who mourning the loss of dear loved ones. I am praying for those who have lost their jobs and wondering how they will financially face the future. Let those who have help those who don’t. I want to end this unique Easter message with a note of gratitude for your resilience and loving kindness to us all here at Our Lady Star of the Sea. We will be busy with all sorts of Sacraments and I ask you tor patience as we sort things out. In the meantime, realize how loved you are by our Risen Lord.

Here’s a poem I would like to share with you.

When this is over, may we never again take for granted

A handshake with a stranger, Full shelves at the store, Conversations with our neighbors, A crowded theatre, Friday night out, the taste of Holy Communion, A routine check- up, , The school rush each morning, Coffee with a friends, The stadium roaring, Each deep breath, A boring Tuesday, Life itself.

When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way- better for each other because of the worst
– Laura Kelly Fanucci

A blessed Easter and the Risen Lord’s Peace remain with you and your loved ones.
Father Tom Devery

Holy Week Pastor Letter 2020

Dear Parish Family,

May the Lord truly watch over you and protect you with peace during this Holy Week. We apologize for not having palm to distribute. The company selling us palm agreed to give us credit for next years delivery. As we go through this difficult time, I was struck by the words of Father Richard Rohr, OFM and his writing on the topic, “Life is Hard:” I will now share this for your reflection and prayer.

“You have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired before recovery can begin-Twelve Step Wisdom”. All great spirituality is about what we do with pain. Creation has a pattern of wisdom: and we dare not shield ourselves from it, or we will literally loose our soul. We can obey commandments, believe doctrines, and attend church all our lives and still lose our souls if we run from the necessary cycle of loss and renewal. Death and Resurrection are lived out at every level of the cosmos, but only one species of the cosmos thinks it can avoid it – the human species.

I am afraid that many of us with privilege have been able to become very naïve about pain and suffering in the United States and the Western world. We simply don’t have time for it. However, by trying to handle all suffering through willpower, denial, medications, or even therapy, we have forgotten something that should be obvious: we do not handle suffering; suffering handles us-in deep and mysterious ways that becomes the very matrix of life and especially new life. Only suffering and certain kinds of awe lead us into genuinely new experiences. All the rest is merely the confirmations of old experience.

It is amazing to me that the cross or the crucifix became the central Christian logo, when its rather obvious message of inevitable suffering is aggressively disbelieved in most Christian countries, individuals and churches. We are clearly into ascent, achievement, and accumulation. The cross became a mere totem, a piece of jewelry. We made the Jesus symbol into a mechanical and distant substitutionary atonement theory instead of a very person and intense at-one-ment process, the very reality of love’s unfolding. We have missed out on the positive and redemptive meaning of our own pain and suffering. It was something Jesus did for us (substitutionary) but not something that revealed and invited us into the same pattern. We are not punished for our sins, we are punished by our sins ( such as: blindness, egocentricity, illusions and pride).

It seems that nothing less than some kind of pain will force us to release our grip on our small explanations and our self-serving illusions. Resurrection will always take care of itself, whenever death is trusted. It is the cross, the journey into the necessary night, of which we must be convinced, and then resurrection is offered as a gift.

In this time of suffering, we have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do with our pain? Are we going to blame others for it? Are we going to try and fix it? No one lives on this earth without it. It is the great teacher, although none of us want to admit it. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it in some form. How can we be sure not to transmit our pain onto others?

Prayer for our Community:

O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us to become a community that shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts longings for the healing or our world (Please add your intentions) Knowing you are hearing us better, than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in the all Holy Name of God. Amen. “

“ Help! Is definitely on my tongue as a one-word prayer when I can’t form coherent words. Help! Is what I am asking for, as I face and unpleasant future, that is preceded by a couple of unpleasant years. Help! Came on time: I am still hurting, grieving this loss of a hoped for, dreamed about, new future, but I am reminded to hang in there and yell from the depths of my soul, Help! – F. Ngunjiri.”

I send my prayers and blessings for a powerful Holy Week. “We adore you, O Christ and we bless you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Prayerfully,

Father Tom