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

Ascension Thursday Update

Sixth Sunday of Easter Shared Homily

A Letter from Father Tom May 17

Dear Parish Family,

The other day, my cousin Mark send me this adult fairy tale. It’s lovingly told of a dad reading this story to his little son at bedtime. Read it and enjoy.

The Great Realization

Little Boy: Tell me the one about the virus again, then I’ll go to bed.

Dad: But my boy, you’re growing weary, sleepy thoughts about your head.

Little Boy: Please Dad, that one is my favorite, I promise just once more.

Dad: OK, snuggle down though I know you know full well

that story starts before then, in a world I once would dwell.

It was a world of waste and wonder, of poverty and plenty,

back before we understood that hindsight’s 2020.

You see the people came up with companies to trade across all lands.

But they swelled and got much bigger that we ever could have planned.

We always had our wants; but it got to be so quick

we could have everything you dreamed of in a day and with a click.

We noticed families stopped talking, that’s not to say they never spoke,

but the meaning must have melted and the work life balance broke.

And the children’s eyes grew squarer and every toddler had a phone.

They filtered out the imperfections but amidst the noise they felt alone.

And everyday the skies grew thicker, until you couldn’t see the stars.

So we flew in planes to find them; while down below we filled our cars.

We’d drive around all day in circles. We had forgotten how to run.

We swapped the grass for tarmac, shrink the parks, till there were none.

We filled the sea with plastic; but our waste was never capped,

until each day when you went fishing; you’d pull them out already wrapped.

And while we drank and smoked and gambled, our leaders taught us why,

it’s best not to upset the lobbies, it’s more convenient to die.

But then in 2020, a new virus came our way,

the governments reacted and told us all to hide away.

But while we were hidden amidst the fear and all the while,

the people dusted off their instincts. They remembered how to smile.

They started clapping to say thank you and calling up their mums.

And while the car keys gathered dust, they would look forward to their runs.

And with the skies less full of voyagers, the earth began to breathe.

And the beaches bore new wildlife, that scuttled into the seas.

Some people started dancing, some were singing, some were baking.

We’d grown so used to bad news, but some good news was in the making.

And so, when we found the cure and we were allowed to go outside,

we preferred the world we found to the one we left behind.

Old habits became extinct and they made way for the new.

And every simple act of kindness was given then it’s due.

But why did it take a virus to bring the people back together?

Sometimes my boy, you must get sick before you start feeling better.

Now lie down and dream of tomorrow and all the things we can do.

And who knows if you dream hard enough, maybe some of them will come true.

We now call it The Great Realizaton

and yes, since then, there have been many.

But that’s the story of how it started, and why hindsight’s 2020.

 

A blessed Easter season,

Father Tom Devery

 

May 13th Update—Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

Let’s Pray A Million Rosaries on May 13th!!

Let’s Pray A Million Rosaries on May 13th!!

Join Fr. Jeff Pomeisi @farrell.pomcast a priest of the Archdiocese of New York in partnership with Spiritual Strength to pray one million rosaries at the same time on the same YouTube channel, in honor of the renewed consecration of the USA to Our Blessed Mother.

Join us May 13, 2020, 7PM EASTERN TIME
on Fr. Jeff’s “Pomcast” YouTube channel and sign the petition to so we can get to one million signatures by May 13th.

A victory for God is a victory for America!  And use the hashtag #millionrosarymay13th To find Fr Jeff’s “Pomcast” channel just go to YouTube and search for “Pomcast” or go this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFxN……  To sign the petition go to ipetitions.com and search for “Million Rosary” or go to this link: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/m…

And remember to use the hashtag #millionrosarymay13th

Ave Maria!

Saint Joseph, Pray for us!

Fifth Sunday of Easter Shared Homily

A Letter from Father Tom May 10

Dear Parish Family,

Here’s a pastoral observation on just one of he comments of Governor Cuomo. It’s not an easy read; however, if it is read slowly it make perfect sense.

Bishop Robert Barron writes, “Last week Andrew Cuomo, made on interesting theological observation. Commenting on the progress New York State has made in fighting the coronavirus; and praising the concrete efforts of medical and ordinary citizens, he said: ‘The number is down because we brought the number down, God didn’t do that. Faith did not do that. “I won’t waste a lot of time exploring the hubris of that remark, which should be obvious to anyone. I might recommend, out of pastoral concern, that the governor read the first part of Genesis Chapter eleven.

What I will do is instead explain the basic intellectual confusion that undergirds Cuomo’s assertion, one, that, I fear, is shared by many believers. The condition for the possibility of the governor’s declaration is the assumption that God is one competitive cause among many, one actor jostling for position and time upon the stage with a coterie of other actors. One this reading, God does certain things – usually of a rather spectacular nature—and creaturely causes do other things, usually more mundane. Thus, we can clearly parcel our responsibility and credit – some to God and some to finite agents. But this account is deeply unbiblical and alien to the Catholic theological tradition.

To understand the scriptural sense of the play between divine and human causality, it is helpful to consult the cycle of stories dealing with King David in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. What strikes the reader is the nothing “supernatural” takes place in these accounts. Practically everything that happens to David could be adequately accounted for on a psychological, historical, military, or political grounds. However, throughout the narrative, God’s activity and involvement are assumed, for the author takes for granted the principal that the true God works not typically in an interruptive way but precisely though a congeries of secondary causes. Mind you, it is not the case that some explanations of David’s story are political or psychological and some properly theological; rather everything is at once, natural and supernatural- precisely because God’s causality is operating noncompetitively. If you want a one – liner summery of this distinctively biblical perspective, you could not do better that this, from the prophet Isaiah. “O Lord, you have accomplished all that we have done.” (Isaiah 26.12).

Now why should this be true? Here it would be helpful to turn to the Church’s greatest theologian, Saint Thomas Aquinas. For Thomas, God is not the supreme being  (ens summum, in his Latin), but rather ippsum esse subsistens, which means “the sheer act of to be itself.” In a word, God is not one more instance of the genus “being”, one thing, however exalted among others; instead, he is the self- explaining source of existence as such, that great font of being in  and through which all finite things subsist and act. Therefore, God does not compete for space, so to speak, on the same ontological grid as creatures, a zero – sum game does not obtain in regard to God’s activity and creaturely activity – the more we ascribe to one, the less we have to ascribe to the other.

Allow me to ground this rather abstract rhetoric with a homey example. If one were to ask what is necessary to make a bicycle, the response would be something like this: “tires, brake pads, a chain, a metal frame, the skill of the builder, perhaps a schematic to guide the building process, etc.”. No one would ever to be tempted to respond as follows:” tires, brake pads, a chain, God, a metal frame, the skill of a builder, etc.” And yet, a smart religious person, upon finishing the project of constructing that kike, would quite legitimately say “Thank God!” The prayer would be a humble acknowledgement, not that God is responsible for the entire nexus of causes and behaviors that made up the process. The upshot is that the two dimensions of causality—on finite and the other Transcendent–operate simultaneously and noncompetitively: “You have accomplished all that we have done.”

All of which brings me back to Governor Cuomo. To claim that “God did not do that” because we did it is a category mistake. What brought the coronavirus numbers down? It is perfectly accurate to say: “The skills of doctors and nurses, the availability of hospital beds, the willingness of so many to shelter in place, etc.”. But it is also perfectly valid to say that God brought those numbers down, precisely by grounding the entire complex of creaturely causality just referenced. This relationship holds at the metaphysical level, but it is perhaps even clearer when it comes to the psychological motivation of those dedicated physicians and nurses. Why ultimately were they willing to do what they did? I would be willing to bet that a large percentage of them would say that it was a desire to serve others and to be pleasing to God.

So we should thank all of the good people involved in bettering our current situation; and we shouldn’t hesitate, even for a moment to thank God as well. There is absolutely no need to play the zero – sum game proposed by the governor of New York.”

God Bless you during this Easter Season, and may He and we Keep us all safe and well.

Father Tom