Pastor's Message - January 20, 2019
“Nations shall behold your vindication, and all the kings your glory; you shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the LORD. You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by your God. No more shall people call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” but you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the LORD delights in you and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” ~Isaiah 62
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
The beautiful words of Isaiah found in the selection for our Sunday readings today, are juxtaposed with the story of the wedding feast of Cana that we hear from the Gospel of John.
From the baron, empty, and desolate desert of separation from God, now comes an abundance of blessing. In the book of Isaiah we hear of God's love for people in tender marriage imagery; a love of a "bridegroom for his bride."
And in the Gospel, only because of the direct prompting of his mother Mary, we read of Jesus beginning his works of mercy by providing needed wine for a newly married couple who had run out. Of all places, Jesus’ first miracle happened while attending a wedding feast!
Jesus’ first miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana may not seem to correspond with his later miracles of healing, raising the dead, curing the leper, and feeding the hungry; five thousand at Cana. But when we read the selection from today's first reading from Isaiah or check out the book of the prophet Hosea, we begin to better discern the connection and understand why Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding feast.
Through inspired scriptural writers, God uses marriage imagery throughout the Old and New Testaments to more deeply describe the immense love God has for human beings. This love far exceeds our own limited capacity for marital love and self-sacrifice. The book of Isaiah and the book of Hosea describe this marital love of God in varied ways. We see that God established a powerful marriage covenant of love that is meant to be eternal and everlasting.
Although the season of Christmas has officially concluded, we continue to marvel at God the Father sending us Jesus, his only Son, God incarnate, so that we would know the great awe-inspiring gift of love He has for us.
Like His Heavenly Father, Jesus who is, and always has been, God from God, Light from Light, begotten from God, became one of us, taking human form and flesh through the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because of Jesus, human life is now made sacred, in an everlasting way.
The gift that we share when we receive the Holy Eucharist at Mass, is Jesus himself. What a gift!
May God bless you this week!
Pastor's Message - January 13, 2019
“The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” ~Luke 3
Dear Parishioners and Friends;
All of us at St. Rita extend our condolences to Fr. Mike and his family on the sudden loss of his brother Stephen earlier this week. The funeral was held here on Saturday morning.
This weekend we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord by John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry of preaching and miracles. The Feast of the Baptism also brings to a close our Christmas season.
The request by Jesus to John for his baptism was quite remarkable in the fact that Jesus was always without sin and did not need John's baptism of repentance. But Jesus was baptized to show unity with us as sinners in need of God's salvation, which he himself would bring. Jesus would go on to command his own disciples to baptize so that the sacramental waters would flow over us and we would be restored in our broken relationship with God. We forever become the adopted children of God!
We should never underestimate the importance of Baptism. It is much more than simply a sign of repentance, it is a receiving of the Holy Spirit in both body and soul. Original Sin is washed away. Death is no longer everlasting and permanent because we receive the promise of everlasting life through Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection.
January is observed as “Respect Life Month” in our church and is the time when we pray for the grace and mercy of God to bring about a conversion of hearts and minds especially towards the helpless unborn child and the infirm elderly. As Catholics we reject anything that is designed to deliberately terminate human life. Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world through the womb of Blessed Mary. The miracle of Christmas is that God sanctifies our humble human origins and places us adults and especially the innocent child, including within the womb, into the presence of God.
St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta pointed out, there is no justification, circumstance or purpose that warrants the justification of destroying innocent human life. Something in us also "dies" in the process of taking human life. The emotional toll is very real and costly. In a mysterious way, we ourselves are changed by what we do to others, good or evil.
Unfortunately many individuals do carry the burden of the memory of a past abortion. Extreme pressure from friends, even well-meaning school counselors and family are all added to those memories of fear, abandonment, and betrayal.
As your pastor, my personal message to you is... don't lose hope! Don't give up your Faith either! And don't be afraid! God's Love is more powerful than the decision that was made. God's power is greater than our total failures. You are precious in the eyes of God! Forgiveness and healing are possible and real. Don't suffer this burden alone.
Project Rachel is a Catholic initiative that provides support and aid for those suffering because of a past abortion. Their number is 888-972-2435 or [email protected] www.hopeafterabortion.org Healing and reconciliation through God's love are the path that this compassionate and totally confidential support group offers. Coming to terms with those memories in a caring and supportive setting allows one to experience a healing miracle of Jesus and to rediscover that living a joy-filled life in God's presence is possible again.
See the page in today’s bulletin on how you can help show your opposition to a current abortion expansion bill currently in legislation. Hard to believe that we have individuals proudly promoting this as a "signature issue" for NYS.
Please also pray for the safety of all those attending the March for Life at the end of the month.
May God bless you!
Pastor's Message - January 6, 2019
“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ~Matthew 2
Dear Parishioners and Friends;
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and the visit of the Magi. The story of the Magi appears only in the Gospel of Matthew.
There is a mystery about the Magi. As foreigners they were knowledgeable in astronomy and understood the ancient prophesies that a Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. This Messiah was to be unlike any other, an everlasting King who would change the world forever. Wanting to see this infant King, they came bearing the unusual regal gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. When Herod learns about the reason for the visiting Magi, he makes evil plans. But God protected Jesus by having Joseph, Jesus and his mother Mary flee to Egypt.
And so the story of the Magi helps us understand the significance of Jesus birth. As the Magi recognized through the star that something of great significance was taking place, they left everything and brought their most priceless treasures so that they could worship this newborn king. We, like them, recognize Jesus as our greatest treasure too.
May we allow God space and room in our lives so that God’s plan may come to fulfillment in our own life too and that we may transformed by the gentle love of Jesus through our own actions and words to our family, children and others.
As the New Year begins, let us open our hearts to receive God’s most precious gift, His only son Jesus.
May God bless you!
Pastor's Message - December 30, 2018
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Happy they who dwell in your house! Continually they praise you.” ~Psalm 84
Dear Parishioners and Friends;
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph with the story of young Jesus in the Temple. The Feast of the Holy Family has its origin due to Pope Leo XII in 1893. Pope Leo wanted to highlight the importance of the Christian family and use the Holy Family as a model for all families to follow. While the church is described as the "Family of God" the real roots of the larger church depend on the health and well-being of the individual human family, including our own.
We must not forget that Jesus was born into a human family too. Although Mary and Joseph could not offer the newborn Jesus much material wealth, the surrounding poverty of a stable, what Mary and Joseph did offer Jesus was the greatest gift of warmth and parental love. Mary and Joseph had their share of trials and tribulations through the years, but drew on their faith in God’s will for them. The Holy Family shows us an example of how to live together in peace.
Families come in many different shapes and sizes, but the Holy Family is still a model for us all. On this day we thank God for the gift of our own family, each unique in their own way. We ask that Jesus come and be the center and source of divine, eternal love in our family.
May God bless you!