Lenten Regulations

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

“These forty days of Lent, O Lord, with you we fast and pray.” This line from a popular hymn we sing in our parishes during the season of Lent contains a very important truth. During the days and weeks of penance that lie ahead — from Ash Wednesday, February 18th until Holy Thursday, April 2nd — it is with YOU, Lord, with YOU we fast and pray. The model Jesus gave us for “these forty days” was his own experience of the desert and the temptations that followed him there where he encountered Satan face to face. And yet, Jesus, there in the desert — alone, fasting and in intense prayer — beat back the devil and triumphed over temptation, as strong and as unrelenting as it was throughout those forty days.

We enter the desert of Lent like Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, to face our devils, our temptations head on. But we are not alone. “With YOU we fast and pray” is our song. The Lord Jesus Christ is with us. And so, too, is the Church, the entire community of faith observing Lent. “With YOU, too, we fast and pray.” Here is what the Catho-lic Church in the United States asks of us as baptized Catholics:

The days of fast (only one full meal) and abstinence (no meat) are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. All other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence (no meat).

Those between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast (only one full meal) as above. From the age of 14, people are also obliged to abstain (no meat: this obligation prohibits the eating of meat, but not eggs, milk products or condiments of any kind, even though made from animal fat).

The obligation to observe the laws of fast and abstinence is a serious one for Catholics. Failure to observe one penitential day in itself is not considered a serious sin. It is the failure to observe any penitential days at all, or a substantial number of days, which must be considered serious.

The obligation, the privilege really, of receiving the Eucharist at least once a year — often called “Easter duty” — for those in the state of grace should still be fulfilled during the period from the First Sunday of Lent, February 22nd to Trinity Sunday, May 31st. However, the Church’s law does permit this precept to be fulfilled at another time during the year when there is a just cause.

I want to encourage Catholics to get to confession and to make use of the sacrifices and traditions that have al-ways been part of our Lenten practices in the Church.
We do, indeed, fast and pray with the Lord Jesus and with our fellow Catholics. May this

Lent be a time of penance, grace and joy for us all.

Sincerely yours in Christ,




Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M.
Bishop of Trenton

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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2015

Dear Parish Family,

This weekend is Pledge Sunday for the Annual Catholic Appeal throughout the Diocese of Trenton. Each year the Bishop seeks the support of all of the members of the diocese to further the work of our ministries. Each of us has a vital part in all we do in Christ’s name, and each of us can share in all we do with a gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal. Our single Act of Faith propels the work of love that builds up our Church. You make that happen with a generous gift to the ACA.
This year, St. Aloysius Parish’s share of the goal is $100,000. As the people of the Diocese of Trenton, you have an opportunity to help others see Christ working in our midst. I ask you to take a moment and truly reflect on any help you can give. We truly need everyone to participate. This year we again are striving to help the Diocese reach their goal of $7 million.

I am always grateful and moved by the level of support you give to our parish. I thank you for this support, and may God continue to bless you and your family.
Peace and Good – Fr. Bambrick

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Re-Creational Sex

Last week’s blog mentioned three important facts about sex: God made sex, sex is good, and God designed sex to be a holy act of selfless love between a husband and wife. So what does that say about sex? If that’s what sex is, then what is it for?

Unfortunately, contemporary social values would have us believe that sex is merely a physically satisfying recreational activity. Yes, sex obviously has a physical component to it. But calling it a “recreational” activity might seem to lessen its meaning, like it’s a hobby or something we do for fun entertainment in our spare time. This is the message we so often see in the media, from Sex in the City to 50 Shades of Grey. How empty and meaningless, not to mention exploitative… (God has something SO much better in mind for us!) If this is what we mean by “recreation,” then it’s not a good word to describe sex.

I’m a huge linguistics buff, though, so let’s look more closely at the word “recreation.” “Create” is the root word, which means “to make something new.” That sounds appropriate so far, after all God uses the sexual love of a husband and wife to re-new the sacrament of their marriage and to bring about the procreation of new life. So far, so good. Back to grammar: the prefix “re” means “to do again.” So if we call sex “re-creational” in this sense, what we’re really saying is that it makes something new again and again. That’s not so bad, now is it? In God’s plan, that is exactly what sex is supposed to be about.

Our Catholic faith tradition tells us that God made human beings different from all the other creatures. God made us in his image and likeness. He gave us physical bodies and eternal souls that are intimately connected. God uses our physical senses to communicate spiritual realities to us. Just look at our sacramental life as a faith community and how earthy it is. We use ashes, fire, oil, water, bread and wine to communicate the divine realities of God’s love and mercy. We human beings are enfleshed spirits. What we do with our bodies affects our souls. It is how God designed us. This means that because sex is a physical reality, it is at the same time a spiritual (even sacramental) reality. These two aspects of human sexuality cannot be separated any more than the human body can be separated from the human soul without leading to death. This body-soul connection is why our sexual lives and our faith lives are so intimately intertwined.

So, what does this mean about sex? What is it for? How does it “re-create” us? Just as human beings are both body and spirit, so too sex has a physical purpose and a spiritual purpose.

“…our Catholic faith teaches us that sex is designed for us by God for two main purposes that must never be separated: to bring husband and wife together in an intimate union of persons that seals and strengthens their mutual love for one another (the unitive purpose), and to cooperate with God in bringing forth new life through the procreation of children (the procreative purpose).

These two fruits of marriage, the unitive and the procreative, were inscribed on our human sexuality by God himself from the beginning of human existence. By its very nature, sex communicates a permanent union of life and love through the language of our bodies. It is an outward reflection of this inner reality. In order to come together in the way that God designed, every act of intercourse must be open to both unitive love and procreation. That’s simply the way God designed us.”

(Excerpt quoted from Facing Infertility: A Catholic Approach. Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2012. Page 38)

And it’s the way God designed sex. Of course, these deeply held beliefs about the dignity and holiness of marriage and sexuality aren’t very popular in the world today. Witness the mass appeal of 50 Shades of Grey, which will surely be a box office hit this weekend (more on that here). We Catholics may be in the minority when it comes to our beliefs about sex, but it’s the best sex there is because it’s the way God made it.

Jean Dimech-Juchniewicz, MA
Author of Facing Infertility: A Catholic Approach

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2015

The following is a letter that Bishop David M. O’Connell has asked us to print in the bulletin to thank everyone for their outpouring of good wishes following his recent surgery.

My Dear Parishioners:

I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and concern I have received from all over our Diocese, includ-ing your parish. I have received over 10,000 cards, letters, emails, video messages, gifts and countless prayers dur-ing my hospitalization and ongoing recovery. I could not begin to respond to each one personally, as much as I wish I could. Your pastor has allowed me to offer my heartfelt thanks in your parish bulletin. I am most grateful to you for your loving concern. The future looks good and I hope to be back in public by Palm Sunday. My thank-ful prayers are with you.

God bless you.

Bishop O’Connell

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Top 3 Catholic Sex Secrets

Warning: Adult Content. Rated C for Catholic.
If the topic of sex makes you the least bit uncomfortable, you are not alone. Even our first parents Adam and Eve were uncomfortable with their own sexuality after they turned away from God. But before their epic fail with the fruit in what we call “Original Sin,” we can assume that they frolicked around Eden in their birthday suits without a care in the world. Yet the Bible tells us that the very first thing Adam and Eve did after they disobeyed God was to get dressed! (see Gen. 3:7) They tried to hide from one another and from God. Silly? We all know that God can see us all the time. Wherever we are. Whatever we’re doing. Dressed or not… [Cue dramatic pause.] Yet they hid. The true meaning and beauty of human sexuality can still be hidden and distorted in many ways in our fallen world. Furthermore, God designed sex in such a way that it makes husbands and wives physically, emotionally, and even spiritually vulnerable to each other, and that can be scary. So sometimes the topic of sex makes us uncomfortable.

I’d like to talk about sex anyway. In detail. It’s too important not to discuss. It’s crucial for Catholics to understand God’s plan for human sexuality, otherwise the Church’s moral teachings regarding sexual matters might be difficult to understand. That bears repeating: Our Catholic faith’s moral guidelines about basically all things sexual make perfect sense and hold together because they are firmly grounded in the way God has designed and intends human beings to express sexual love.

So, hopefully I’ve said “sex” enough times that the discomfort has dissipated. And hopefully you agree with me that sex is super important for Catholics. I think most people would agree with that anyway. Sex IS important! Ok, then, if you’re still with me, let’s spell out three of the best kept sex secrets in the Catholic Church:

Sex Fact #1: God created and designed sex.
Cool, huh? We can’t take credit for sex. We can take credit for how it often goes wrong and leads to pain and sorrow, but sex in and of itself comes from God. It is a beautiful gift that God designed for husbands and wives to share with each other in marriage. It all goes back to how God created human beings in his image and likeness. Which brings us to…

Sex Fact #2: Sex is good very good.
See Fact #1. God made sex, therefore sex has to be good. God doesn’t make junk. We learn in Genesis 1:28 that after God made the first man and woman in his image and likeness, his first words to them were words of blessing: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…” God blessed our first parents and told them to go have babies. There’s only one way to obey that command, right? By having sex. And after all this happens we hear that “God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good…” (Genesis 1:31) So God doesn’t think humans are just good. We’re “very good.” And so is sex.

And finally…

Sex Fact #3: Sex has the potential to be holy… even sacramental.
What!!? … Really? Yes, really.
Before my wedding, my mom explained it like this. Marriage is like a triangle. Imagine this picture in your head: God is at the top, and the husband and wife are each at the other angles. The closer God draws the husband and wife to each other, the closer they get to God. The closer the spouses draw to God, the closer together they become. Marriage is a relationship of three in this life, designed to bring both spouses to union with God in heaven. So what does this have to do with sex being holy? Everything.

“God gave us the gift of our sexuality to draw us closer to him through one another. The act of giving and receiving love during intercourse mirrors God’s giving of himself completely over to us, his creatures, in the person of Jesus Christ. ‘Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation of His Son’ (Pope Leo XIII, On Christian Marriage, no. 19). This sincere gift of self imbedded in the sexual intimacy of married love reflects Christ’s union with the Church as he gave the supreme gift of self when he died on the cross. His death, the gift of his very life for humankind, is the act that brought about our salvation and unites us with him. Because Christ’s union with the Church is reflected in the sacrament of marriage (see Eph. 5:22-33), Catholics often refer to Christ as the Bridegroom, to the Church as the Bride of Christ, and to the Mass as the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Sex, then, is of primary importance as far as our Catholic faith is concerned. It is a foretaste of the intimate union with one another and with God that we will enjoy in heaven. Sex makes visible the invisible mystery of God’s love, when lived out in the manner God intends. In fact, sex is the act through which the sacrament of Marriage is renewed and strengthened. Coming together as husband and wife, we renew with our bodies the promises we made on our wedding day.”

(Excerpt quoted from Facing Infertility: A Catholic Approach. Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2012. Page 36)

Jean Dimech-Juchniewicz, MA
Author of Facing Infertility: A Catholic Approach

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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2015

To the presidents, principals, faculty, staff and students in the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Trenton:

Happy Catholic Schools Week 2015!  Thank you all for your devotion, commitment and love of Catholic education.

I have been overwhelmed — there is not a better word to describe it — with the literally thousands of cards, letters, emails, videos, drawings and pictures, prayers and spiritual bouquets I have received from our students and schools throughout the Diocese of Trenton during my hospital stay in the past month.  If anything demonstrated the unique Catholic spirit or our schools, it has been this outpouring of love and prayers you offered for your Bishop.  I am deeply moved by your messages which are spread out on my dining room table.  What an incredible gift to me!  I cannot thank you enough.

During my sickness and process of recovery, I have and will continue to remember all of you in my prayers!  What a nice way to to begin Catholic Schools Week 2015 when we celebrate our “communities of faith, knowledge and service” scattered throughout the four counties of the Diocese of Trenton!  May God bless you and may our Catholic schools remain strong!

Lovingly yours in the Lord,



Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M., J.C.D
Bishop of Trenton

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But Not Gigolos

I know--I use this pic for everything...but it's my favorite.

I know–I use this pic for everything…but it’s my favorite.

The other day, while chatting with my family, the topic of politics came up. Yeah, yeah—you’re never supposed to talk about politics or religion, but God knows it’s impossible to avoid either of those topics in my house! We spoke of our disgust for our current political state—how there is no party that represents our beliefs and values consistently, and our need for GOOD politicians. My mother said, “Maybe when Ben grows up, he could get into politics. He’d be a good politician.” “Not my son!” I snapped back. The thought of my son being in the midst of that element was too much for me. Ben asked why and I said, “Ben, I would support and be proud of you in almost any line of work that you feel God calls you to. Almost. Not a drug dealer, or gigolo, or politician, or anything like that.” And then, in a clearer moment, I got to thinking…how selfish is that? Not the drug dealer or gigolo thing; but my not wanting him to be a politician. If that’s where God calls him, I have to be okay with it and pray that he would be a good one.

I wondered if similar conversations happen in other Catholic homes, but instead of freaking out about the potential politicians, if it’s with potential priests. Priesthood is quite a sacrifice for an individual (and his parents if they want grandchildren). It means forfeiting marriage, regular hours, holidays off, a little chunk of your sanity, freedom and a whole lot more. For some (not unlike the case with politicians) there is a distrust of priests and sometimes the good ones get lumped in with the bad in the mind of the public. I’ve seen it happen. A good deal of their work is an uphill battle and a great deal falls on deaf ears. They get to be present to people in their best times, but also must be present in their worst times. They get a lot of nonsense hurled at them. Of course there is much joy in their priesthood, too, (including working with some amazing lay people and most likely a fabulous pastoral staff) but the sacrifice is immense.

I wonder if there are a lot of parents who would say, “Not my son!” and would dissuade their sons from discerning the priesthood like I instinctively did regarding politics. We do need good politicians, though. And we certainly do need good priests. Our Church needs men who will lead with an authentic heart, who feel God’s call to serve the poor and marginalized, to celebrate the Sacraments with joy and to preach the Word of God with sincerity. We need strong men who know themselves, are not easily led but are appropriately obedient. We need to raise sons who can respond to whatever God calls them to—including the priesthood. But not gigolos.

Jen Schlameuss-Perry

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2015

Dear Parish Family,

This weekend we mark the beginning of Catholic Schools Week.

The theme is: “Catholic Schools; Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service”. The theme encompasses several concepts that are at the heart of a Catholic education. First, schools are communities – small families in their own right, but also members of the larger community of home, church, city and nation. Faith, knowledge and service are three measures by which any Catholic school can and should be judged. The logo features a swirl of colors interacting around a cross, which is at the center of all Catholic education. The vibrancy of the colors and the movement and shadows in the logo portray the inner-connectivity and community life that are present in our Catholic schools.

The Diocesan celebration of Catholic Schools Week begins on a sobering note, it has been announced that three of our 48 Schools will close in June, they are; St. Dennis in Manasquan, Holy Family in Lakewood and Incarnation/St. James in Trenton. A decision on a 4th school has not yet been made.

Happily, our school is strong and vibrant. As a parish community it is important, even essential, that we support Catholic Education for our school to remain strong.

On behalf of the whole parish I thank our teachers, support staff and administration for their good work in striving for excellence on a daily basis. I thank those of you who supported the establishment of a Catholic School in your parish and who continue to say “yes” through prayer and sacrifice to sustain Catholic Education in Jackson. I thank our parents for choosing Catholic Education and making the sacrifices necessary for our children to grow in a Catholic environment where Jesus is Lord and Teacher! Together all of us create a community of Faith, Knowledge and Service in the spirit of the Gospel.

Please join us for our School’s Open House this Sunday (Jan.25) anytime between 9:00 a.m. – 12 noon or on Friday January 30 from 9:15-10:15 a.m. You are also cordially invited to join us for the closing Mass for Catholic Schools Week on Friday Jan. 30 at 10:30 a.m. as we celebrate Catholic Education!

Peace and Good – Fr. Bambrick

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Invisible Boyfriends and Weddings For One

Science Fiction has been warning us for years—apparently, people need to be watching more TV and movies—because we are missing the message. As humanity progresses (and I do love the progress and tech that is being developed), we are becoming more isolated and out of touch with one another. Our society is at an all time low as far as human relationships go. Now, you’re probably saying, “Duh, Jen, who doesn’t know that?” But, did you know that in Japan (crazy Japan…) you can book a dream wedding for one? It’s aimed at girls who can’t seem to find a husband but still want to have the wedding experience. It pretends to build up the poor, young ladies’ self-esteem. Nothing says, “You’re special” like pretending to get married with a fake groom that you’ve never met. And if that doesn’t do it for you, Japan is working on some serious humanoid robots to keep you company.  I mean, if you’re having a fake wedding, you’ve pretty much given up, anyway, right?

the people who are sitting are actually robots.

the people who are sitting are actually robots.

This past Tuesday a company launched an app called “Invisible Boyfriend.” It’s for girls who can’t find a boyfriend (and boys who can’t find a girlfriend, etc.), but would like the illusion of having one. You get all kinds of services like phone calls, texts, even hand-written notes (good luck getting those from even a real boy anymore!). You can get worried parents off your back (as long as they don’t want to meet him), make yourself feel better (if pretending to be in a relationship will do that for you) and practice being in a relationship without actually having one. That won’t be a problem if a human boyfriend ever does come along, right? There won’t be any, “Why can’t you be more like Invisible Boyfriend, Chad? He always agreed with me and sent me hand-written notes!”

I also read an article about the reality of designer babies coming to pass. They are ready to genetically engineer babies to parent’s specifications with (what they claim is) extreme accuracy. It’s like Build-A-Bear, but with human infants. What sort of disappointment are these parents setting themselves up for when they come to realize that the perfect child they designed isn’t really perfect (no one avoids the terrible two’s or the traumatic three’s).

These things sound absurd, but they are selling. With a lack of social skills becoming more and more the norm among young people, our demand for made-to-order everything and instant gratification, we are digressing as a species. We are impatient, greedy and selfish, demanding and consumeristic and. I know that everyone isn’t running out and genetically engineering babies, having  solo-weddings and making fake significant others—but the fact that there’s a market for these things speaks to a real longing on the part of humanity.

We are trying so hard to create—or more to the point—to simulate a utopian life for ourselves because of the rampant personal dissatisfaction we feel. It results in our trying to control aspects of our lives that we can’t—not really. We feel so lacking and so empty that we are moving ever deeper into a virtual world because people, relationships, our work don’t fill us. And they never will.

Fake boyfriends will only get you so far. Let’s face it—they won’t get you anywhere—the sitcoms have already covered this topic so sufficiently that it shouldn’t even be an issue. We need to invest in reality—in actual human relationships that begin with a relationship with God.

If we are looking for happiness and fulfillment in things that are fleeting, unstable, or unreliable we will never be filled. Our lives will only change once we are rooted in God. If God doesn’t fill us first, nothing else will satisfy. If God isn’t our starting point, nothing else will ever meet our expectations. Reality is only found in God and if we try to manipulate or create it, we will only be playing in shadows. The more in touch with God we become, the more open we become to human relationships and knowing where God is really leading us—which will be to good things—fulfilling things—our true purpose and vocations.

Jen Schlameuss-Perry

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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2015

Dear Parish Family,

It was a busy and momentous Christmas Season. We, like you, had visitors from far and wide. Bishop O’Connell had amputation surgery due to diabetes. There was an update in last week’s bulletin. He continues to do well in his recovery and is most appreciative of your prayers and concern for him.

The Christmas season was splendid and I want to thank everyone who made the holiday holy and beautiful. The great thing is that if I began to name everyone it would fill all the pages of this bulletin so I am saying THANK YOU and you all know who you are!

The priests are most grateful for all the wine, cookies, cakes, and other presents and goodies you sent to us. I know Fr. Fernando humorously asked everyone to please stop sending cookies at Mass one Sunday! We did have a lot of cookies and our waists will certainly show it.

There was a cook in one of my assignments who was very good at making everything good and she did it in large quantities. When I told her I was gaining weight her answer was, “Father, I only cook it, I don’t make you eat it”. But of course if it was good I ate it! Time to lose weight!

The Church looked particularly nice this year. One parishioner shared with me something she overheard on the way into Church right after Christmas. She said there was a gentleman bringing in guests and he said to them, “Welcome to Jackson’s Cathedral”. She said she was so proud that someone would describe the Church that way. So thank you to all the Elves who made it a “Cathedral” for the season, the comment was a testimony of your good work!

I want to also thank Liz Annino who donated 3 Sacred Images of Our Lady from South America, 1 Sacred Image from South America of the Angel Gabriel and a Greek Icon of St. Ann holding the Virgin Mary. She gave them in Honor of Mary on the Eve of the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. The three images of Mary and the one of Archangel Gabriel were installed on either side of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 30, 2014. The Icon of St. Ann holding the Virgin Mary was placed in the priest sacristy.

Sometime after Easter a portrait of St. Francis of Assisi will be added to the area of the Saints and candles. It is being executed by John Gennard, who did the Padre Pio. This image will be a copy of the oldest portrait of St. Francis which is in the lower Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. The original was done by the Artist Ciambue from descriptions given to him by the Friars. It is considered to be the truest image of St. Francis in existence.

There is a project that has been underway for a considerable amount of time. It is to enhance the Church Ambo (Pulpit). Drawings have been being sent back and forth across the Atlantic to Venice for a Mosaic of the Four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to wrap around the entire exterior surface of the Ambo. When the drawings are complete they will be displayed.

Peace and Good – Fr. Bambrick

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