13th Sunday of Ordinary Time Shared Homily

Pastor Letter for June 21

Dear Parish Family,

Happy Father’s Day to our dads and granddads! What a gift you are! Not only to your family but to our parish family; your presence at Mass, your witness to your faith and loving your wife and children is so much needed in our world today. Many fathers have told me that this quarantine time has given insight to many things that we take for granted. Primarily, you have been present to your family at home than anytime before. Our identity as fathers has been provider, bread winner and protector and many describe ourselves by what we do rather than who we are. There has been a spiritual awakening taking place. God is with us in this terrible time and He will lead and guide us if we let him. So, let me honor you for your faithfulness and dedication to God and your families. Happy Father’s Day.

Cardinal Dolan writes about his dad in his book “Who do you say that I am”.

“I thank God for the gift of my dad, for he was a loving, responsible and caring man. His faith and his family were his focus, his passion, and the center of his life.

I am convinced that the restoration of fatherhood as a esteemed vocation in the Church and in society is the key to renewal and the antidote for many of our cultural ills. By their word and their example, dads teach us many important lessons.

When a man fully embraces what it means to be a dad – to be a father – he is a position to teach us fidelity. Simply put, a dad is man of his word.  He is true to the vows he made to the Lord and to his wife. He keeps the promises he made to his children on the day of their baptisms, when he agreed to teach them “by word and example”.

True dads are selfless and willing to make sacrifices, including the most seemingly insignificant ones. My dad loved ketchup. No meal was complete without it. Yet when the bottle was nearly empty, he would never touch it. The little bit remaining was for us.

Dads gift their children with time. I remember standing in the front yard, baseball glove in hand, waiting for Dad to come home from work.  Through he was hot, sweaty and tired he always had time to play a little catch.

Finally, dads teach their kids about God’s true nature. What a supreme compliment to every dad: God revealed Himself as a father!

What children think of their dads profoundly influences the way they think about God. If they see their dads as loving, selfless, faithful, and forgiving, this will translate directly to our Heavenly Father.”

I often find inspiration from “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. Her reflection for June 15 (Monday past) helped me appreciate where I draw the strength for my fatherhood as a priest. She writes as if Jesus is speaking to us in the first person.

“When you approach Me in stillness and in trust, you are strengthened. You need a buffer zone of silence, around you in order to focus on things that are unseen. Since I am invisible, you must not let your senses dominate your thinking. The curse of this age is overstimulation of the senses, which blocks out awareness of the unseen world.

The tangible world still reflects My Glory to those who have eyes to that see and ears that hear. Spending time along with Me is the best way to develop seeing eyes and hearing ears. The goal is to be aware of unseen things even as you live out your life in the visible world.   (2 Corinthians 4:18; Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 130:5).

I can’t wait to see you all return to church. I miss you and pray for you all daily. May God bless you!

Fr. Tom Devery

 

Corpus Christi Sunday Shared Homily

Pastor Letter for June 14

Dear Parish Family,

This Sunday is the Feast of Corpus Christi, The Body and Blood of Christ. I will be offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, live stream at 11AM. May I invite you to come by the car-full to our parking lot for a blessing with the Blessed Sacrament. At 3-4PM I will be people in their cars. This would be a wonderful way to demonstrate our faith. Jesus is truly present in His word, in His people, and most sublimely in The Blessed Sacrament. Unfortunately, there are Catholics who don’t believe in the Real Presence of Jesus. This is the heresy of our times. If only we could let go and let God give us this faith to surrender ourselves to this truth, how powerful Christ’s presence could change our lives for the better.

For lifelong Catholics, it has been a spiritual suffering to go these past 100 days without receiving physically Jesus into our lives. We understand that the new normal will challenging until the statics and metrics point to our total return to Church Life. Let us not waste this suffering but unite it to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross for the healing and evangelizing of the whole world. It’s been said before, Know Jesus, Know Peace, and No Jesus, No Peace. May the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity reinforce our faith in the fact that God promised to never abandon us and that He is with us until the end of time.

We are on the brink of returning to 25% capacity for Sunday Mass and simultaneously offering a Parking Lot Mass in the gym parking lot. We are meeting this week as a staff to discuss, times and how we can do the logistics of this so as be with the health guidelines of this pandemic and maintain safety and security. It must be made clear, until we are fully opened for our regularly schedule of Mass, the obligation to attend Mass is suspended and we are praying the prayer for all at home for Spiritual Communion. This is a sacrifice and I anguish over this since social distancing is a unique suffering that none of ever experienced before. However there is new data from the CDC regarding the nature of this pandemic. For example, it has been determined the importance of wearing masks, not just in stores, or shops but in public, since the tiny droplets can linger for up to 3 hours and that it doesn’t last as long on surfaces. These findings are alarming and yet consequential, if we don’t be mindful that we can trigger another wave of sickness, suffering and possible death.

Surrender Prayer

God, my Father, I thank you for all that you are and all that you do for me through your Son, Jesus Christ. I praise you for my life, for your mercy and your presence in the Eucharist.

In Jesus name, Father, I place myself entirely into your Heart. I surrender to you my whole self, my heart, my mind, my memory, my imagination, my will, my emotions, my passions, my desires, my body, my sexuality, my desire for human approval, my weaknesses, my sins. I surrender every situation in my life to you. I surrender every relationship I am into you. I surrender every concern I have to you. I surrender every fear I have to you. I surrender every doubt I have to you. I surrender all my wounds to you. I surrender all my anxiety and worry that I have to you. I surrender all that deceives me in my heart to you. I trust you to care for me and others in a perfectly loving way.

As I have emptied myself; and surrendered everything to you. I ask you now, Father, to fill me with your Holy Spirit and all the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, you are the source of love, hope, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, tenderness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. Purify my desires.  Help me to open my heart to you. Help me to become perfectly receptive as a pure child. Help me to believe in your love for me. Help me to hope in your love. Help me to receive from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus all graces and virtues necessary for me to become the person you created me to be. God Almighty Father, I ask this in the Name of Jesus your son.

O Most Holy Immaculate Virgin Mary, I entrust this prayer to your heart and ask you to press it into your sorrowful and immaculate heart and intercede for me to your Son, Jesus. Please help me to be as you are, a loving disciple, an obedient servant, a true child of God. AMEN.

I congratulate the Our Lady Star of the Sea School Class of 2020 who attended their outdoor graduation. Certainly, this class will go down in history as having to deal with the pandemic and troubled times for our economy and justice. However, you have been given the gifts to proceed into the future. We are saying well done and blessings be upon you and all the sacrifices your families made to give you a Catholic Education in our parish school. Now walk with God and we will take delight as we watch your growth. Be not afraid.

With Trust in God’s Love for you this Corpus Christi,

Father Tom Devery

 

Trinity Sunday Shared Homily

June 3rd Update

Pentecost Sunday Shared Homily

Pastor Letter for May 31

Dear Parish Family,

Just as we remembered last Monday on Memorial Day, those men and women of the military that paid the ultimate price for our freedom from the past, and as we honor these days the men and women battling Covid-19 all first responders and medical personnel and all essential workers who risk their lives to save others, so we offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass praying for the Holy Spirit to come and end this pandemic and help us to discover new vaccines, and recover from fear and loss, and stress of these days. I recently was impressed by an article that seemed very timely about our situation now and how we can take care of our Planet. Pope Francis dedicated his encyclical “Laudato, Si”, to the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi and his love for ecology. Enjoy!

Loving God by Loving the World

I have often wondered what might compel more Christians to take personal responsibility to mitigate climate change. With all the scientific evidence we’ve been given, it doesn’t seem to be a head issue but a heart one. Scholar Sallie McFague (1933–2019) offers both theological and ethical reasons for us to make some much needed changes at an individual level. She writes:

As St. Augustine [354–430] puts it, sin is “being curved in upon oneself” [1] rather than being open to God. In our ecological age, we now see that being open to God means being open to the other creatures upon whom we depend and who depend upon us. We do not meet God only in Jesus of Nazareth, because God is also incarnate in our world as the universal Christ. . . .

To love God by loving God’s world has meant different things to different people in different times. For us . . . it is epitomized by climate change . . . the central crisis of the twenty-first century. Put simply, climate change is the result of too many human beings using too much energy and taking up too much space on the planet. Through excessive energy use and its accompanying greenhouse-gas emissions, we are changing the planet’s climate in ways that will make it uninhabitable for ourselves and many other species. . . .

This is a strange “crisis” to face: It does not have the immediacy of a war or plague or tsunami. Rather, it has to do with how we live on a daily basis—the food we eat, the transportation we use . . . the luxuries . . . [and] long-distance air travel we permit ourselves. We are not being called to . . . fight an enemy; rather, the enemy is the very ordinary life we ourselves are leading. . . . Yet, for all its presumed innocence, this way of life lived by well-off North Americans [and prosperous people in other countries —RR] is both unjust to those who cannot attain this lifestyle and destructive of the very planet that supports us all.

What, then, would be [an appropriate] ethic for twenty-first-century people and especially for well-off, religious people? One of the distinguishing characteristics of many . . . religions is some form of self-emptying. Often it takes the form of ego-lessness, the attempt to open the self so that God can enter. . . . In the Christian tradition, kenosis or self-emptying is seen as constitutive of God’s being in creation, the incarnation, and the cross. In creation, God limits the divine self, pulling in, so to speak, to allow space for others to exist. . . . In the incarnation, as Paul writes in Philippians 2:7, God “emptied the divine self, taking the form of a slave,” and in the cross God gives of the divine self without limit. Likewise, one understanding of Christian discipleship is [as] a “cruciform” life, imitating the self-giving of Christ for others. . . .

Could we live and move and have our being in the universal Christ, participating in the insight and power of God incarnate in the world as we deal with . . .  the basics of existence—space and energy—so we can live in radical interdependence with all other creatures? We are not alone as we face this challenge—the universal Christ is in, with, and for the world as we struggle to deal with climate change.”

I try to do my part. I ordered on Amazon a hand grabber, heavy duty and as I pray my rosary, I walk the perimeter of our 15- acre parish campus. There is no shortage of empty bottles, gloves, masks, candy wrappers, cigarette packs, wipes, cups, napkins and e-cigarette containers. Actually I have filled on these walks 9 garbage bags. It’s a practice of mercy for the land that resists this garbage and one of internal self -emptying in forgiveness. “Father, Forgive them, they know not what they do.” I pray for a New Pentecost and that day we resist the throw-away culture and love more our common ground.

Pentecost Blessings,

Fr. Tom Devery

Seventh Sunday of Easter Shared Homily

Pastor Letter for May 24

Dear Parish Family,

We find ourselves with the disciples in the Upper Room with our Blessed Mother praying since the Ascension of the Lord for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. “Come Holy Spirit” is our prayer as well as we await a New Pentecost. When Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, he promised that he would not abandon us and that “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and your will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” The birthday of the Church is Pentecost, and next Sunday we will celebrate that. Both Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and Cardinal Timothy Dolan write about Jesus who imparts his Spirit to us and intercedes for us before the Father.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen write:” Now that Christ is in glory at the right hand of the Father, what does he do there? Has he a work? Certainly, he’s a mediator. We might say that He is constantly showing his scars to his Heavenly Father and he is saying,

“See, these I was wounded in the house of those who love me. I love humanity. I suffered for them. Forgive them Heavenly Father.” He is our sacrifice. He is ever present before our Father. As Scripture puts it, “ever making intercession for us”. You see, we very often get the wrong understanding of the life of our Lord. We think of him as just living on this earth, preaching the beatitudes and suffering, No, Jesus did not come down just for that. He is living, making intercessions for us, the representative of all who invoke him. Certainly, he has finished the work of justice on earth because he paid the debt for sin. But the work of mercy in heaven is unfinished. That goes on and on. The reason it goes on is because we need this intercession.

When Our Lord was on earth, he revealed the Heavenly Father. It was only through him that we know how much love the Father has for us.  The Father so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son to save it.  The night of the Last Supper, Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father.” Our Lord replied, “ Philip, have I been with you all this time still you do not understand the Father and I are one?” It was the Father’s love that sent the Son, so that the Lord was kind of a prism. Just as when the earthly sun shines through a prism and splits light into seven rays of the spectrum, so too Our Lord reveals the full love and goodness of the heavenly Father. “

(May 18- May 19 Through the Year with Fulton Sheem, complied by Henry Dieterich)

Last Monday, May 18 was the 100th birthday of Saint John Paul II and Cardinal Dolan writes, “ I tried my best to read everything that Saint John Paul II wrote, and in doing so I noticed that one word that appears over and over: return. He exhorts priest to return to the Upper Room, where Jesus gave the Church the gift of the priesthood.

He tells young people to return to their inner dignity, for they are in the image and likeness of God. He summons the sick to return to Calvary to share in the Christs cross, which gives meaning to their suffering. He tells married couples to return to the radiance of their sacred bond. – a bond that mirrors God’s love. And to America, he tells us to return to the protection of life and welcome those that in need.

He askes all of us to return to what is most decent, noble and uplifting in our makeup as children of God. He asks us to return to Jesus – to come back to Palestine and be saved.

Saint John Paul II wanted all of us to experience again the excitement, the invitation, the conversion, the promise, the miracles, the teaching- the Person who walked in Palestine 2000 years ago and who lives now in His Church.”

(Who Do You Say I Am? by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Image Books- May 18 reflection).

Questions about Pre Cana have been called in. I received information from the Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of New York (212 371 1000) that in June there will be a virtual Pre Cana and preparations are being made at present for chat rooms. Also questions about re-opening the Church for Mass will depend on the metric system given by New York State and the Corona virus Task Force. Questions also about Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals will depend on the 4th Phase opening up the State. Also questions about Summer Camp are still yet to be determined since children have been having reactions relative to Covid- 19, Kawasaki disease and other symptoms. We are awaiting word. I will keep you posted as soon as I know. Though the bulletin, Wednesday updates on You Tube, Sunday Mass announcements that will be after Holy Communion at 11AM which will be live streamed from our parish website, OLSSPARISH. Org. God bless, stay safe and let us continue to implore the Holy Spirit to protect us.

Come Holy Spirit!

Father Tom Devery