Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2014

Dear Parish Family-

When a parish has a school, it’s life revolves around a school calendar, this is merely a statement of fact, and so many things ‘start’ in September and ‘finish’ in June. Then there is the summer vacation break between.

So it is with our parish, too! September brings with it a flurry of ‘starts’. We have ‘started’ off well this year. Our School opened with 376 students, an excellent and healthy enrollment. I was present for opening day greeting our returning students on Tuesday September 2. We opened with afternoon conferences Tuesday and Wednesday for our teachers on Catholic Identity and Practice.

The Rosary-Altar Society had a great turn out for their opening meeting. The Holy Name was working on finalizing details for the Flea Market. Our newest Ministry, Change a Life Uganda, began their work seeking sponsorships and was well received. The RCIA Team was busy getting things ready for today’s Reception into Full Communion of the Catholic Church and Confirmation to take place at the 12:30 p.m. Mass. Religious Education is preparing to open the doors to another year of faith sharing. Our Small Christian Communities will have their annual day of Recollec-tion and Mass at Stella Maris Retreat House in Long Branch. PTA is working hard on supporting our school chil-dren. And so many other ministries, committees, groups and such are gearing up for many full and rewarding pro-grams for the coming year.

To say we are off to a good start is an understatement! We are blessed with so many faithful, caring, generous, kind, loving community oriented members with a global view. If you are not involved in anything, take a look at all those banners that have hung on the ramp rails on the right and left of the Church for the last 4 months. These are opportunities for you to become more deeply involved in the life of the parish. Our Pastoral Associate Jen Perry is available on Sunday’s to answer any questions to point you in the right direction.

On September 9-11 (Tues-Thurs) myself and Fr. Fernando were away at the annual Convocation of Priests. I am grateful to Msgr. Joe for covering the 8:00 a.m. Masses on Wed and Thurs. The Convocation is a once-a-year gath-ering of all the Priests of the Diocese with Bishop O’Connell to discuss important issues related to priesthood, par-ish life and the Diocese. Last week Bishop O’Connell’s column was printed in this space. He has been sharing criti-cal information on the state of the Diocese. Most importantly in the next 5 years more than 50 priests will retire. We ordain about 6 men a year. You can see that is a deficit of minus 4. When I was ordained we had 127 parishes staffed by nearly 300 priests. Today, due to the process of consolidation, we have approximately 115 parishes staffed by 165 priests. Our priests are also aging. The known factor is that 50 priests will retire however the unknown is how may will die or leave the priesthood each year. This year was particularly hard as more than a half a dozen priests left the priesthood. We need to both pray and encourage vocations to the priesthood. Pray for us your priests and our Bishop, these are challenging times. As Christians we do our best work on our knees in prayer!

Peace and Good – Fr. Bambrick

Posted in From the Pastor | Leave a comment

Bustin’ Our Brothers

This past Sunday’s readings told us that we need to tell people when they are doing something wrong or their sin is on our head. For some people, this was exactly the justification they needed to boss people around, to stick their noses where they don’t belong, and to judge others. Like Candice Flynn from “Phineas and Ferb,” they are always out to bust their brothers—looking to catch someone sinning and make them pay for it. But, that’s not what the readings meant.

In Ezekiel, we were told (well, Ezekiel was told…but, by virtue of our baptism, we share in the prophetic role, so it’s for us, too) that we are to be a “sentinel” or a “watchman.” In the olden days, that was the dude who sat on the castle or city wall and watched out for invaders, alerting the people within that danger was approaching so that they could be prepared and fight against it. It’s the same for us—we are supposed to keep an eye out for the evil one, helping to protect the people within our walls by alerting them to a clear and present danger. It is a matter of caring for the safety of your neighbors—both physically and spiritually.

So, now those of us who understand that we are NOT supposed to judge might have a question about how to correct someone who is in sin. The answer is—in love. Look at how Jesus deals with such a situation in the woman caught in (the very act of) adultery (Jn 8: 1-11). She’s dragged out of the house, presumably naked and apparently alone—there’s no mention of her partner in crime—surrounded by men wanting to throw rocks at her until it kills her, already throwing insults at her. Jesus—the only one fit to judge her—doesn’t. He doesn’t join in the attack against her; he doesn’t attack the men who were attacking her. He writes some unknown thing in the sand, and then says, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” When everybody leaves, he remains alone with her. He stands with her in her shame and asks her who condemns her. “No one, sir” is her response. He says, “Nor do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

You don’t have time to judge someone if you’re standing with them against a common enemy. If you enter into another’s pain, stand with them against that which threatens their safety, you are taking a very different posture than blame or judgment. That’s exactly what Jesus did—he entered our human situation, on our side, facing a common enemy, gently correcting us where we need it. This is how we live the command in the prophet Ezekiel. We are not out to get anyone, not to judge and not to bust. Just to love and invite.

 

Jen Schlameuss-Perry

Posted in Jen's stuff, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2014

This is a new column by Bishop David M. O’Connell intended to share information and inspiration with the Catholic Community in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties. This column can be viewed online at www.dioceseoftrenton.org/welcome-to-our-diocese-today. It is hoped that you visit this website often to stay updated on what is happening in and around the Diocese, and to connect with Bishop O’Connell as he ministers to the flock throughout central New Jersey.

We will publish updates from this column in the bulletin as they become available.

OUR DIOCESE TODAY is a place to connect with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and the community of the Diocese of Trenton, including the clergy, religious and laity within our parishes, Catholic schools, diocesan minis-tries and social service agencies. We’ll be posting items of interest and inspiration, messages and reflections from our Bishop, and much more. Come back often to stay in touch.

I hope that these brief informational inserts in “Our Diocese Today” are helping Catholics in the Diocese of Trenton learn more about our local Church. It is important, especially as people form opinions, that they have the facts.

In the Diocese of Trenton, 7,537 new Catholics were baptized in the last year; a number that reveals a decline of roughly 30% since 2000. Of that number, 88% were infants and 12% were other children and adults. This down-turn has impacted potential Catholic school enrollments in the Diocese and will continue to do so.

Seven of the ten parishes reporting an actual increase in baptisms are parishes with growing Hispanic/Latino pop-ulations. St. Anthony Claret Parish in Lakewood, for example, registered 341 baptisms this past year. The Diocese needs to keep this data in mind for future pastoral planning.

Twenty-seven (27) of our 107 parishes in the four counties report more funerals than baptisms. Fourteen (14) of these same parishes indicate that funerals outnumber baptisms 2-to-1. Despite these numbers, pastors in the Dio-cese are reporting the trend in families not to request funeral Masses for deceased parents — including those who were faithful weekly or daily Mass attendants — but, rather, to prefer services held in the funeral home or at graveside. More catechesis about the importance of the funeral Mass as the most fitting conclusion to Catholic life on earth is needed.

The fastest growing segment of the population of Catholics in the Diocese are those in the 65 plus age group. Within the next 5 years, 1 out of every 5 Catholics will be over the age of 65. This will surely impact pastoral minis-tries offered in parishes throughout the Diocese.

These statistics and data are interesting, especially given reports from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) in Washington, D.C., that the total Catholic population in the United States is actually growing, from 71.7 million in 2000 to 76.7 million in 2014. These numbers represent individuals surveyed who “self-identify” as baptized Catholics. When seeking Catholic population totals of those actually registered in parishes throughout the country, the national numbers are 59.9 million in 2000 and 66.6 million in 2014, still reflecting significant growth.

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

Posted in Bishop O'Connell | Leave a comment

Jesus Likes Fun

I was sitting in my office thinking I should write a blog, but feeling really uninspired. I was no fun Jesusso uninspired that I almost posted on Facebook, “I need to write but am completely uninspired. What should I write about?” Just then, I received a text from my friend, Amanda, with this cartoon. My immediate response to her was, “Depending on the fun, though, he’d go with you. Like, if it’s a swing set, he’d be right on it.” This is a good meme—it shows how sometimes we need to walk very boring, dry walks, and when we do, Jesus is always with us. He waits patiently while we go off distracted—He’ll wait as long as we drag our feet. And, when we turn off away from Him, we really aren’t going to find the fun that we thought was there. It’s empty, drier than the dry path we were already on, and unfulfilling. Great message, indeed!

But, then there are swing sets. And there’s other good fun. Jesus likes fun. He invented it. I think that, as Christians, we sometimes forget that God wants us to have fun! He was great at parties. Remember—Jesus’ first miracle was to make more wine when they ran out at a wedding—and it was the good stuff, too!

Not that Monty Python are great (or even good) theologians, or anything, but their brand of humor can offer a balance to our sometimes too grim view of God. Like in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when God appeared to Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The conversation went like this:

We need to have an attitude of wonder and awe with God. We should be respectful, naturally, but we also have to make sure that we don’t do the injustice to God of thinking Him boring or always looking to find fault with us. Christianity; a relationship with God doesn’t mean all dry, dusty paths. It means learning to appreciate the dust when it comes along, to value God’s presence with us as we walk, to learn something on that part of the journey. But that doesn’t mean that we should make those paths our goal. Our lives shouldn’t be an entirely of dusty, miserable journey. God doesn’t want us to suffer through life. God wants us to make life-giving decisions that lead us to true joy. And fun—real fun. So, hit the swings, and take Jesus with you!

Jen Schlameuss-Perry

Posted in Jen's stuff | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2014

Dear Parish Family-

This weekend we mark Labor Day. It has become largely associated with bargain sales, back-to-school sales, a day off, a long weekend and the harbinger of the last days of summer bliss. It can be all too easy to forget that it honors the worker, the labor and most especially the working poor. At the time of the Industrial Revolution working conditions and wages were abysmal and too often dangerous. Families were left impoverished when the working man of the house was disabled or died at work. Labor Day pays homage to workers throughout the land.

The Church has contributed much to educating humanity on the plight of the worker and the family. The worker cannot be separated from the family he or she supports by work. Pope Leo XIII on May 15, 1891 released an Encycli-cal Letter entitled “Rerum Novarum”, meaning “New Things”. Some would translate the title as “of Revolutionary Change”. Certainly the letter was a Revolutionary in its call to defend the rights of working persons and their fami-lies. It was then seen as a revolutionary document on Church Teaching. Even today with all the noteworthy advanc-es in working conditions and wages, Leo’s Encyclical letter still holds some revolutionary ideas. This year the letter will be 123 years old but still seems fresh. Here is one quote:

“Let it be taken for granted that workman and employer should, as a rule, make free agreements, and in particular should agree freely as to wages; nevertheless, there is a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, that remuneration should be sufficient to maintain the wage-earner in reason-able and frugal comfort. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.”

Rerum Novarum called for a preferential option of the poor, the Common Good of all, Rights for the working poor and the duty of the State to promote social justice through the protection of rights.

It has produced Seven Essentials of Church Teaching on Labor:

1. The Dignity of the Human Person

2. The Promotion of the Common Good

3. The Principal of Subsidiarity

4. Participation

5. Solidarity

6. A Right to Private Property

7. The Universal Distribution of Goods

It remains the Primary document and foundation for the Church’s Social Teachings and subsequent Popes have all drawn from it to magnify, strengthen and add to it the Church’s Social Doctrines.

The Great American Poet, Walt Whitman, (who lived, died and is buried in NJ) wrote a terrific poem about the American worker entitled; “I hear America Singing”:

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the

deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,

The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,

The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the

morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,

The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at

work, or of the girl sewing or washing,

Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,

The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Happy Labor Day to all workers!

Peace and Good – Fr. Bambrick

Posted in From the Pastor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2014

Dear Parish Family-

Our summer days are drawing to a quick close, the garden is already in decline. I communicated with a friend of mine asking what her family was enjoying the last weeks of summer and she replied, ‘Summer? The kids are al-ready back in school, our summer is over’. They live in a State where the children return to school in August! I imagine many college students are already back to school and children are also preparing to head back. Parents and grandparents are busy shopping for ‘back-to-school’ supplies.

The Parish too is getting ready for the opening of the St. Aloysius School year 2014-2015. This year school will open with a workshop for our teachers on the Vocation of the Catholic School Teacher and how to build a Catholic Culture in our School. Our Schools, as Bishop O’Connell has said, must be Catholic in more than name alone. They must be seedbeds of Catholic Identity; everything in the School must by its practice in word and action, re-flect the Gospel, Church Teachings and Practice. We begin the new School Year with this focus. Studies show that Catholic identity is key to the success of Catholic Schools.

The Holy Father’s recent visit to Korea was a huge success in every respect. He continues to focus on witness as a means of attraction to Catholicism. People must be attracted to the Church by the good witness of Her members.

I want to congratulate Brother Rufino on his reception of first vows in the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Brother Rufino was formerly known as Andrew Poster. His parents, Gerard and Carol, are members of St. Aloysius and live in South Knolls. Brother is missioned in the South Bronx working with the poor. Pray for him and for Vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life.

Enjoy these last days of summer; however lazy or hectic they may be.

Peace and Good – Fr. Bambrick

Posted in From the Pastor | Leave a comment

A Natural Heart

If you keep up with the news lately, you could really get discouraged. There is so much Ezekiel 36 26senseless violence, true horror and just plain inhumanity dominating the reports. People are behaving like animals—both on our own soil and across the ocean. It seems that a total lack of reason, intelligence and conscience is consuming individuals, making them very dangerous groups causing unspeakable harm to innocent people. In today’s first reading from the prophet Ezekiel, God tells us that He will, “give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.” (Ez 36:26) The things that are happening in Syria and Iraq, the Ukraine and even Missouri are so unnatural. The people involved seem to have lost themselves.

There is no point in oversimplifying what is happening in the world, and there’s no way I’m going to weigh in on the initial incident in Missouri—I don’t have all the facts, anyway—but a comment is needed on what follows. The people in Missouri who are looting and rioting (not talking about the peaceful protesters, here), instead of bringing attention to a real issue, have become the problem—destroying their own neighborhoods, visiting a reign of terror on their own neighbors—to fight injustice? Their cry of “Injustice!” is muffled and lost in their violence. And mob mentality doesn’t just grab the protesters; incidents of those who are supposed to be protecting the public get caught up, too. Those who should be promoting peace and justice contribute to the deterioration of it.

The group “Anonymous” who consider themselves activists (and who I think has good intentions) have called for a “Day of Rage” throughout the cities in America today in response to what is happening in Missouri. They would like people to lose themselves in violence with the purpose of driving out violence. That makes sense…SAID NO REASONABLE PERSON EVER. In their appeal they call themselves “our collective.” Borg much? The worst part is, some legislation that they would like to get passed IS reasonable—but they discredit themselves with their insanity.

We are made in God’s image and likeness. We are meant to be ruled by reason and compassion, justice and mercy. We are not ourselves. We need God to replace our stony hearts with natural hearts. Our society needs a new spirit. We each need to be our most natural, most authentic selves—the way that God designed us to be. It’s in each of us—we all have the potential to be healing to one another and to the world. We just have to let God take root.

Jen Schlameuss-Perry

Posted in Jen's stuff | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Baby Pictures

I really like Buzzfeed. Their website is full of interesting stories, hilarious list articles (listicles?), updates on TV shows and movies that I like and ridiculous quizzes (…that I take all the time. Did you know that if I was one of The Doctor’s companions, I’d be Rory?! It’s true! I just took a quiz about it!  I have mixed feelings about it.  The quiz is right, but I’d rather not be a guy.) Not all of their content is appropriate for all viewers, but a lot of it is fun.   [Note: Like any other media outlet, you have to choose what items you want to click on.  Don't go on there and then write me nasty emails because you clicked on something that was obviously objectionable.]

Today, I came across a re-post on Buzzfeed from a group called Personhood USA. It’s a non-profit that works for the promotion of human dignity at all stages, races, whatever. [Note: Their stuff is very strongly worded, etc.  If you go on there, don't argue with me about what you see.]  The article is, “Top 10 Mind-Blowing Images of Human Life in the Womb.” I’m very excited because the article is clearly showing, as it states, that, “We’re all just grown up embryos.” It is so clearly a pro-life message. And, whether it was intentional on behalf of the individual from Buzzfeed or not, it’s put up there like it’s nothing. It’s a taken for granted truth.

I love technology, and I love when it is used to promote the dignity of human beings, and creation in general. The pictures are awesome, inspiring and undeniably human. My hope (and the hope of Personhood USA) is that people will see the person in them, and maybe question how and why our society has gotten to a point where we see these tiny humans as a “choice” instead of as a vulnerable person who needs our care and protection.  Share the article (the link is in the title of the article) and share the love.

Jen Schlameuss-Perry

Posted in Jen's stuff | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2014

Dear Parish Family,

At the beginning of August a Circular Letter was sent to the world’s Bishops by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments concerning the Sign of Peace at Mass. It received a great deal of attention in the media and some self-proclaimed ‘experts’ decried the message as if it were the end of civilization. One shrill commentator went so far as to say the Vatican was against giving kisses to people! Some of the commentary was downright silly.

Here is what really happened. In 2005 the World’s Bishops gathered in Rome for the Synod on the Eucharist. One of the formal proposals made by the World’s Bishops concerned the Placement of the Sign of Peace during Mass. This proposal arose because of concerns expressed by the lay faithful and the clergy about disruptive behavior that was occurring around the Sign of Peace.

The Exchange of the Sign of Peace at Mass is, according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, an Option left up to the discretion of the Priest Celebrant. In fact, the exchange already occurs before we all shake hands. The Priest says, “The Peace of the Lord be with you always” and the congregation responds, “And with Your Spirit”. The Rite is complete. He may exercise the option to include, “Let us offer each other the sign of Peace”. Then, in our country, everyone shakes hands.

What is amusing about this whole matter is the same people who were upset about the August Circular Letter are the same people who are vigilant about duplication in the Rites. Two signs of peace is duplication! But I digress.

Getting back to the August Circular Letter; the laity, the clergy and the bishops all expressed worldwide concern about the disruptions that often occur right before communion with the handshake of peace. The Bishops asked the Holy See for a study to determine a better placement that is less disruptive to the Communion Rite of the Mass.

Remember the Synod was in 2005 so there was no rush on this matter, it was carefully studied. After all the response came in 2014, nine years later! The Circular Letter was approved and endorsed by Pope Francis personally. The Congregation for Di-vine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments stated the Sign of Peace would remain where it is in the liturgy but more catechesis needed to be done about the ritual including the understanding it is optional. The letter suggested pastors might opt not to use it on certain occasions.

Certainly everyone has been at a Mass where the sign of peace is more like half-time at a stadium, where the solemn spirit of the liturgy was nearly crushed by noise and movement. Not everyone who comes to Mass, especially for special occasions like weddings, funerals, graduations, First Communions etc., is there for spiritual reasons. Sometimes un-churched,

non-Catholics, and non-Christians come and do not have an understanding of our customs and rituals. To them it is like some sort of intermission. A time to say, “congratulations” or “good luck” or “nice job” or some other greeting inappropriate to sacred worship. The Congregation for the Sacraments simply reminds all of us that the Liturgy, especially the Liturgy of the Eucharist, is a solemn time. They remind us the gesture of peace should be sober, brief and offered with decorum. We simply turn to our right and left and say to the person next to us, “peace be with you”. It is inappropriate to wander or walk around the building shaking every hand you can grab. It is certainly inappropriate and wrong to be saying, “hey, good to see you’ or ‘have a great day’ or ‘congratulations on getting a new car”, “sorry for your loss”, “have a wonderful marriage” or some other secular phrase.

The Circular Letter states, “If it is foreseen that it will not take place properly,” it can be omitted. But when it is used, it must be done with dignity and awareness that it is not a liturgical form of “good morning,” So when might be appropriate to not exercise the optional sign of peace in the form of shaking hands? Flu Season is one of those times that come to mind immedi-ately. Some other times might be funerals, weddings, graduations or any occasion where there is a mixed group of people attending.

It also beautifully states, “Christ is our peace, the divine peace, announced by the prophets and by the angels, and which he brought to the world by means of his paschal mystery…This peace of the risen Lord is invoked, preached and spread in the celebration [of Mass], even by means of a human gesture lifted up to the realm of the sacred.” It went on to say, “It is a wit-ness to the Christian belief that true peace is a gift of Christ’s death and resurrection, the exchange of peace comes after the consecration because it refers to “the ‘paschal kiss’ of the risen Christ present on the altar.” It comes just before the breaking of the bread during which “the Lamb of God is implored to gives us His peace.”

This Circular Letter serves as a good reminder for us to offer the Sign of Peace as it is intended, as a sacred moment between the consecration and the Lamb of God who is our peace and whom we are about to receive in Holy Communion. Not as an intermission, interlude or half-time greeting but as a reminder that Christ is our Peace. As we daily hear of strife around the world we recall it is the Prince of Peace, Christ the Lord, who is our Peace.

Peace and Good – Fr. Bambrick

Posted in From the Pastor | Leave a comment

My Top Ten Favorite Excuses That People Give For Not Going To Church (and my snarky responses to those excuses)

Note: The snarky answers here are meant to be taken as pseudo-sarcastic and totally tongue-in-cheek. Please keep this in mind when reading.

1.  I Work 24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week
First of all, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal—there are labor laws. Do you want me to help find

From Catholic Memes

Credit:  Catholic Memes

you a lawyer? Second of all, that’s not what your Facebook page says. Americans are super busy—we fill our time with all sorts of things. It does feel like we’re working all the time—believe me, I’m right there with you. My job takes me out week days, evenings and Sundays. Plus, my email, text and Facebook is on my phone, so I’m frequently doing “business” in my free time, too. That’s not good. We all need to take a break. But, God should be part of that break, not what we’re taking a break from. Worshipping with a community, receiving Christ—these things rejuvenate, not deplete. Take time out for yourself that is going to fill you up.

2. I Have Small Children
Oh, they’re the worst. Noisy little things… I have them, too. You know, the first thing they do when they exit the womb is scream? And it doesn’t stop there—if you bring them to Church they will choose the quietest time of Mass to scream like you’re murdering them—the homily, the Consecration—they know how to pick it. When my kids were little, I used to get ready for Mass and wonder what fresh hell I was in for this week. There were Sundays when my husband would take one of my screaming, writhing kids out of Church and I’d wonder if I would ever see either of them again (not enough to follow them, mind you, just enough to quietly ponder). So, why did we put ourselves through it? Because now they come with us cheerfully—not perfectly—but cheerfully enough. I still have to sit between them and give them the hairy eyeball once in a while, but dang if they aren’t listening. Church is what we do on Sunday. It’s the main event and the rest of our day and the rest of our week is better for it.

3.  Mass Is Sooooooooooo Booooooooring
Sometimes it is. I know. I’ve been to Churches where the preaching was less than stellar (not St. Al’s, of course), and the music was more like a dirge (not at St. Al’s; we have the best music ministry in the Diocese), and the community might have been comprised of undead. I was told when I was a kid, that it’s not what Mass brings to you, but what you bring to Mass—your attitude, your attention to the readings and prayers, the quality time you are spending with God, etc. That’s certainly one way to look at it. But, what Mass brings to us is unbelievable, and transcends bad music and boring preaching—it’s the True Presence of God in the Eucharist and a loving community.

4.  Church Is Full Of Hypocrites
Yes, it is, and as our Protestant brothers and sisters say, “There’s always room for one more!” A family is only as good as its best member, and is as bad as its worst member. A parish family is no different. Are we not up to snuff? Not quality people enough for you? Come! Make us better! That’s a huge part of belonging to the body of Christ—we are a group of broken, messed-up people who God makes better, and who make each other better. We could use your help.

5. Sunday Is The Only Day I Can Sleep In
Mass Times Conducive to Sleeping In: Saturday 5:00 p.m., Sunday 10:30 a.m., and if you really want to sleep in, 12:30 p.m. You know as well as I do that if there’s something you really want to do—like go fishing, golfing, spend a day in the City, whatever—you’re going to drag your sorry, tired bottom out of bed on a Sunday to do it. (Here comes the Catholic, Italian, Mother guilt!) You can’t spare a little time for God who gives you everything, but you can get up for your soccer league? You can’t give God 45 minutes of the time that God gave you in the first place to say “Thanks”? Sure you can. And we make it easy with our copious Mass times.
6.  Mass/Church Is Unrelatable To My Life
Yeah. No it’s not. Real Housewives Of New Jersey is unrelatable to your life. Gossip magazines and Candy Crush are unrelatable to your life. Mass is about who we actually are. We are reminded that we are children of God, brothers and sisters, and how we should be in relationship with one another. It’s belonging to a community that cares for one another, who share values. Mass—the prayers we pray together, the readings from Scripture, the quiet time with Jesus—puts us more in touch with who we are meant to be. We fail, we make mistakes, but Mass is where we are unconditionally loved by God, and invited into a deeper union with Him so that we can live more in a more fulfilled, loving way every day.

7.  I Can Pray At Home/ I Am Spiritual
You sure can pray at home! And you should! But, if you are a Christian, that is not enough. Jesus set his followers up to pray together, to be in community together, to go out to preach the Gospel together. He said, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” (Mt 18: 20) This means that God (who, as a Trinity is Community) is more fully present to us when we worship with other people. And, Jesus gave us, with his own example, what that prayer should be. The Catholic Church has been doing Mass the same way since the 1st Century. Jesus taught the Apostles how, and we continue it.

8.  Having To Go To Church Is A Man-Made Rule
I’m not sure where this idea came from. I’m guessing from people who have never read the Bible. The second chapter of the first book of the Bible says that we are supposed to keep the Sabbath because God modeled it for us—not because He needed it, but because He knows that we do. In Exodus and Deuteronomy we have the Ten Commandments listed for us, which, number three is “keep holy the Sabbath.” Then, we have Jesus at the Last Supper saying, “Do this in memory of me” (Lk 22: 19) and every time he meets someone after the Resurrection, they recognize him in “the breaking of the bread.” The Apostles, from the first days of the Resurrection set Sunday aside for Eucharist. It never wasn’t a part of who we are. Do you know that some groups Atheists are now having weekly meetings for community and some sort of ritual? It’s innate!!! We are hard-wired for community, prayer and God; and Mass is how Catholics do.

9.  I’m Excommunicated
No you aren’t. I’m pretty sure you’re not. Did a Bishop tell you, you are? Okay, you’re not. If you were married in the Catholic Church and divorced, you are still in full communion. If you are those things and got re-married without an annulment (or in your first marriage but not married in the Church), you are not in full communion, but you are not excommunicated. Or maybe you’ve been away or have some other problem—you are probably not in full communion. Not in full communion means that you are more than welcome to be part of our community, you can come to Mass and pray with us, you can be a part of things. But, you can’t receive Communion.  In some cases, it could be just a matter of going to Confession. If you want to get some info on how to get back into full communion, call the parish office (732-370-0500). We’d LOVE to help you!!!!

10. If I Walk Into A Church The Roof Will Fall Down On My Head
No it won’t. That has never happened, and far worse people than yourself have stepped through those doors! It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away from Church. God wants you back. We want you back. Come home. There really is nothing that should prevent you from feeling welcome and loved here. Come home.

Bonus: I’m Not Catholic
So what? That’s an easy one! Call me and we’ll fix that. 732-370-0500, ext. 205, or email: jperry@saintaloysiusonline.org.

Jen Schlameuss-Perry

Posted in Jen's stuff | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments