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Snow Way!
Oct 29th, 2011 by Father Chris

My calendar tells me it’s October but the view out my window looks like a  mid-February blizzard!  The snow here has picked up significantly in the past couple of hours and there is, at last check, about 3 inches already on the ground.  I was really hoping that Jim Cantore might deign to bless us with his presence here in West Harrison during this first Nor’easter ”Winter Wollop” of the season but I see that he is already ”hunkered down” in Harrisburg, PA! 

I always get excited when there are extreme weather conditions.  I guess its the weather “geek” in me coming out!  I just heard on the TV that they are expecting between 11 and 14 inches of snow here by tomorrow morning.  I have my ruler and all my other weather gear ready to go.  All I can say is SNOW WAY!!! 

I encourage parishioners, especially those who are elderly, not to risk life or limb by trying to come out to Mass this evening.  The weather is supposed to clear by tomorrow morning and conditions are expected to be better at that time.

This was the scene outside the church at 1:45 PM Saturday

Another wide view of the church from the road

Here you can see the snow beginning to accumulate on the street

A rare October snow blankets the entrance to the church

Confirmation Retreat
Oct 29th, 2011 by Father Chris

Today, the 8th grade students of our Religious Education Program are attending their Confirmation Retreat.  The retreat is being given by Mr. Tony Bellizzi who has extensive experience in retreats to young people.  He has traveled all over the world and utilizes the stories that he has from those places and from the people he has met there in his work.  From what I have seen it is very effective. 

I have often said, “I never met a person I didn’t find interesting”.  And, it is true, people find other people’s lives and paths in life very interesting and often enough inspiring.  And, if we permit it, God can use our “story” and what He has done through our lives to touch the lives of so many others for the better.  If we do this, then we become instruments of God in the world and we allow ourselves to be used by Him so that His work on earth can be accomplished.  And, this can bring only a sense of great satisfaction and fulfillment which is what every human being utlimately wants in life.

 It is my prayer and hope that the young people of our parish who are on retreat today will be inspired in their faith and come closer to the Lord as they prepare to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this spring.  As adult members of the Church, I hope and pray that they will continue to practice their faith and take their relationship with God seriously.  God knows we need them and I hope they know how much they need God too! 

LOVE…
Oct 23rd, 2011 by Father Chris

Today at 10:15 AM we had a beautiful Family Mass.  The 7th grade students presented a beautiful banner depicting the different parts of the Mass.  This year has been designated as the “Year for the Mass” so they are studying about the Mass more intensly.  It was a great project and I congratulate all of the students on a job well done! 

At the homily I reminded the congregation that the readings, the prayers and the music of the Mass this morning all focused on one theme – LOVE.  And, I gave what is really the most acceptable (at least to me) definition of love that I have ever come across.  Love is “the complete giving of oneself for the good of another”.  That definition could even be limited to one word – giving.  I asked the youngsters in the congregation if any of them had any dreams or ambitions for the future and what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Several hands went up immediately and I was pleased to hear some of the responses.  “I want to be a basketball player”, one boy said with excitement.  “I want to be an anesthesiologist”, another boy said.  “I am going to be a veterinarian”, a girl exclaimed with enthusiasm!  I challenged every one of them to dream big dreams and achieve them.  If you can dream it, you can do it, so dream big!  That is a motto I have lived by all my life.  I told them to be sure that whatever they did, to make sure that it involved giving.  If it involves giving then God will be part of it and, in the end, you will be successful and happy. 

God is love.  And, God gave us the most perfect example of love in the person of Jesus Christ who came to earth to share our human nature, to live with us, suffer with us, and utilmately die for us because he loves each one of us so much.  Everything Jesus did involved giving!  And, He continues to give Himself to us over and over again through the Sacraments especially the Eucharist which is our spiritual food given to sustain us as we continue on our earthly pilgrimage on our way back to Him in eternity.

Many years ago, a priest told me something I have never forgotten.  He said, “the most important thing in life is to live your life for something more important than you life”.  Take some time to think about that.

I ended my homily with a few words that speak about some of the ways we can put the Christian model of love into practice.  It is a prayer for each day.  And it goes like this:

On This Day

Mend a quarrel.  Search out a forgotten friend.  Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.  Write a loving letter.  Share some treasure.  Give a soft answer.  Encourage a youth.  Manifest your loyalty in word and in deed.  Keep a promise.  Find the time.  Forgo a grudge.  Forgive any enemy.  Listen.  Apologize if you were wrong.  Try to understand.  Flout envy.  Examine your demands on others.  Think first of someone else.  Appreciate, be kind, be gentle.  Laugh a little more.  Deserve confidence.  Take up arms against malice.  Decry complacency.  Express your gratitude.  Worship your God.  Gladden the heart of a child.  Take pleasure in the beauty and the wonder of the earth.  Speak your love.  Speak it again.  Speak it still again.  Speak it still once again.

New Translation “orientation”
Oct 21st, 2011 by Father Chris

I encourage all parishioners to join us for one of two orientation sessions that we will be offering concerning the new transation of the Liturgy which will take effect on Sunday November 27th.  The dates and times for the sessions are:

Tuesday November 1 at 7:00 PM and Thursday November 3 at 7:00 PM

The same information will be offered at both sessions.

Both sessions will be held in church and should last less than one hour.  I hope to see everyone there!

Having been taught, now we “live”
Oct 21st, 2011 by Father Chris

Last nights “Teaching Mass” was an informative and enjoyable experience for everyone who was present.  This was the first time I had ever hosted a Mass such as this, so it was quite different for me.  However, I felt very comfortable moving through the different parts of the Mass and giving explanation to many of the different rituals that are performed, prayers that are prayed and actions that are done. 

I thank our Coordinator of Religious Education, Jean Jacksen, for all of her hard work in setting up the Mass and for preparing documents for everyone to take home after the Mass for further reading.

Before the Mass began, I explained the meaning of the vestments that the priest wears during Mass and the reasons for the various colors that are used throughout the liturgical year.  Also, I talked about the Baptismal font and its location in the church as well as the significance of the church structure in general.  The church is a foreshadowing of the “Heavenly Kingdom”.  When we enter into the church we should feel a real sense of awe and wonder just as we hope to enjoy at the end of our lives on earth. 

After the Mass was completed we took a few minutes to look at and practice the changes to the Mass translation that will take effect on Sunday November 27th, the first Sunday of Advent. 

At the conclusion of the evening I reminded everyone present that it is not enough to only be “taught” about our faith but rather that we “live” our faith.  And, that is what we do each day which distinguishes us as “Christian” people.  When I was a kid we use to sing a song at the children’s Mass which I always liked.  The song was – “and they will know we are Christians by our love”.  And so it must be with all of us!

 

“Teaching” Mass
Oct 19th, 2011 by Father Chris

I invite all parishioners to join us tomorrow evening for our first ever “Teaching ” Mass.  At this Mass we will pause from time to time to describe and define different part of the Mass, why we say and do the things we do and what the Mass is all about.  If you have ever wondered why we use incense, why we ring bells at a certain point in the Mass or what the different colors of vestments mean, then tonight will be a wonderful opportunity to have some of your questions answered. 

In addition to describing the Mass we will also introduce the New Translation of the Liturgy tomorrow evening.  There will also be two “orientation sessions” at which we will specifically discuss the New Translation.  The dates are Tuesday November 1 at 7:00 PM and Thursday November 3 at 7:00 PM in Church.  The same information will be shared at both evenings. 

I hope you can make it to one of these important events.  God bless!

What about the Cat?
Oct 9th, 2011 by Father Chris

Last Sunday we celebrated the annual Blessing of the Animals.  This special blessing always coincides with the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, who is venerated as the patron of wildlife and nature.  Well, quite a few people appeared with pets in tow – or maybe for some it was the other way around! 

I entitled this entry – “What about the Cat?”  because the final chapter of Father Benedict Groeschel’s book, After this Life, is reserved for the treatment of animals – specifically our pets.  Our pets become a special part of our lives.  In general, they love us unconditionally and provide us with companionship and joy.  Father Groeschel says that, althought the Scriptures really make no specific mention of animals in Heaven, since God made them and since He created them to bring us such happiness and pleasure, He, in His great wisdom and providence, surely must have made some provision for them. 

Below you will see a few photos of the blessing of animals.  It was a fun time for everyone including the dogs, cats, gerbels, mice, fish, hampsters and lizards that attended.  God bless them all and their owners too!

Respect Life Month (and a letter)
Oct 9th, 2011 by Father Chris

During this month of October the Church calls our attention to the Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life.  Life, after all, is God’s special gift to us.  And, it is a gift which we cannot purchase or produce by any human invention or thought of our own.  Rather, it can only be given to us by God Himself.  Therefore, life must be protected and cherished and respected at all stages and at every moment of existence from conception until natural death. 

I thank the members of the Holy Rosary Society who, last Sunday, led us in a Rosary for Life at the Altar of the Blessed Mother just prior to the 10:15 AM Mass.  And, I thank the Ave Maria Guild, and other parish organizations which are working during this month especially to recognize and pray during the special time dedicated to Human Life.

Last Sunday at the 12 Noon Mass I used, as part of my homily, the letter which Cardinal Cooke wrote on the occasion of Respect Life Sunday in October of 1983.  The striking contents of the letter are made even more powerful by the fact that the Cardinal dictated the letter literally from his deathbed and it was read in all of the parishes of the Archdiocese on October 7th, the day after his death from cancer.  Several people mentioned to me after the Mass that they were impressed by the letter and so I offer it, in part, to you here:

“Dear Friends in Christ:

How often we speak of “the gift of life, God’s “gift of life” to us, His sons and daughters.  What a beautiful phrase!  How filled with meaning it is!  In the Book of Genesis, we read of the origin of this gift: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

It is at times when life is threatened – such as times of serious illness – that the Lord gives us a special grace to appreciate the “gift of life” more deeply as an irreplaceable blessing which only God can give and which God must guide at every step.  From the beginning of human life, from conception until death and at every moment between, it is the Lord, Our God who gives us life, and we, who are His creatures, should cry out with joy and thanksgiving for this precious gift.

We are made in God’s image and likeness, and this fact gives a unique dimension to “the gift of life.”  We have even more reason to be grateful.  It is tragic that in our time, concepts which are disastrous to the well-being of God’s human family – abortion, euthanasia and infanticide – are falsely presented as useful and even respectable solutions to human, family and social problems.  Human life is sometimes narrowly viewed in terms of being inconvenient or unwanted, unproductive or lacking arbitrarily imposed human criteria.

From the depths of my being, I urge you to reject this anti-life, anti-child, anti-human view of life and to oppose with all your strength the deadly technologies of life-destruction which daily result in the planned death of the innocent and the helpless.  Together we must search for ways to demonstrate this conviction in our daily lives and in our public institutions.  In doing so, we must never be discouraged or give up.  Too much is a stake – “the gift of life” itself.

The “gift of life”, God’s special gift, is no less beautiful when it is accompanied by illness or weakness, hunger or poverty, mental or physical handicaps, loneliness or old age.  Indeed, at these times, human life gains extra spendor as it requires our special care, concern and reverence.  It is in and through the weakest of human vessels that the Lord continues to reveal the power of His love.

At this grace-filled time of my life, as I experience suffering in union with Jesus, Our Lord and Redeemer, I offer gratitude to Almighty God for giving me the opportunity to continue my apostolate on behalf of life.  I thank each one of you, my brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of New York and throughout our nation, for what you have done and will do on behalf of human life.  May we never yield to indifference or claim helplessness when innocent human life is threatened or when human rights are denied.

With you, I entrust our efforts to the care of Our Lady who, from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception to the present, has been the refuge for the poorest and most forgotten among God’s people.  I assure you of a special share in the prayerful offerings of my sufferings to the Father, in union with Jesus and through the Spirit of Love Who is ours in abundance.

May God bless you always and give you His peace.”

 

POLICE DEPARTMENT OPEN HOUSE
Oct 9th, 2011 by Father Chris

Earlier today the Harrison Police Department held their annual Open House.  The Police Station was open for visitors from the Town and all were invited to see the inner workings of the day-to-day operations of our Police Department.  I understand that this special event was well attended by so many families and young people.  Earlier this evening I saw our Police Chief, Anthony Marraccini, interviewed by News12.  He concluded his remarks in the interview with these words, ” the Police Department is here to serve the people of the community.” 

I am so proud to be associated with the Harrison Police Department and to serve as their Chaplain.  I ask you to join me in saluting and honoring the men and women of our Police Department as well as our Chief who daily serve us with so much enthusiasm, pride and dedication.  They each deserve our deepest thanks and respect.  Thank you all and God continue to bless you!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLOG!
Oct 9th, 2011 by Father Chris

Well, it has been a little while since I have updated my blog.  I am sorry for the delay but the last couple of weeks have been very busy ones, indeed.  And, I have been saving up my energy for the BIG announcement – The Blog is ONE YEAR OLD this month!!  It was a year ago already that we launched this blog as a way of reaching out to the people of the parish and beyond with positive, good news and commentary from Saint Anthony of Padua Parish as well as the broader community.  I hope it has been something that you have enjoyed and benefited from.  So, one year…and counting!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLOG!

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