November 27, 2022
Just as a calendar year begins on January 1, a new Liturgical Year begins on the First Sunday of Advent. So we stand on the threshold of a new year of grace. I love how we begin the new year with the end in mind: Advent is preparation for the coming of Christ, not just here and now, but also at the end of time. It's easy to focus more on the birth of Christ, but this season is also meant to sharpen our senses and deepen our longing for the ultimate arrival of Christ, the second coming, the fulfillment of all God's promises. I know that's a more abstract theme, but relevant all the same to the tone of this season.
So as we begin another Advent, it urges us to prepare for the end, the arrival of Christ at Christmas and the arrival of Christ at the end of time. With so many unnecessary preoccupations, worries, burdens and clutter, we have plenty of work to do to make room for Christ in this world.
When I consider how much noise I create in my own life, generating needless worry or struggle or distraction, I realize how in need of conversion I am. While some of it is unavoidable, much of it is self-imposed. And the more we carry ourselves, the more we tend to impose it on others as well. As Advent calls us to conversion, it calls us to an inner freedom and stillness, so that we can hear what's stirring in our hearts.
Advent is my favorite liturgical season, but as I consider the focus and the themes of Advent, it's far from easy. There is a clear call to wake up, to change, to be converted, so as to be free enough to recognize Christ at the time of arrival. And to prepare a world where His presence will be recognized, welcomed and cherished.
November 20, 2022
Thankfulness is a way of life and an essential virtue for us as Catholics. The word Eucharist originates from the Greek word eucharistia, which means "thanksgiving." So we give thanks all year long in our worship and in all the ministries that flow from it. At this time of year, however, we focus even more on giving thanks.
For many of us, the primary thanksgiving in our lives arises from our awareness of what we have been given. For our families, our talents, our treasure, our faith, our friends, our jobs, our parish community we are quick to give thanks, and that's a great start. But I think gratitude can lead us into ever-deeper awareness. Being thankful for our blessings hopefully will make us thankful for opportunities to share those blessings. As God has entrusted so much to us, we can be thankful for that trust, that responsibility and privilege, to build the Reign of God by the way we live.
I also once heard someone give thanks for what God had not given, and even for what God had taken away. It's a different angle, but a fruitful one to ponder. Sometimes our experience of struggle and suffering is the beginning of a long-needed transformation. It can be a wake-up call, a revelatory experience of our true value and calling. Strange as it sounds, we give thanks for the Cross, as it is part of the story of redemption.
In the end, I think just cultivating a spirit of gratitude in general is a Christian virtue. When I'm struggling, when I feel good, when I'm aware of my blessings, when I feel poor, no matter what, I try to say aloud many times a day, "Thank you, Lord," not focusing on anything specific, but just acknowledging God as the source and center of life: wise, strong, generous, merciful, ever-present. God is good, and we give thanks.
November 13, 2022
Campus safety and security is a high priority and ongoing challenge at every parish and school campus these days. Providing comfortable, welcoming, useful spaces while also keeping those spaces safe and secure will always be a tough balance. As a community, we continually have to evaluate and update our procedures so that we can look forward to gathering with as much confidence as possible.
While we do a reasonably good job of keeping unoccupied buildings locked, and keeping our school especially secure when it is occupied, we can always do better. Our school has excellent safety protocols in place, and they are constantly being improved and updated. The church, however, along with Seton Hall, are left unlocked unintentionally far too often. Doors get unlocked, but for various reasons, are not locked at the end of an event.
Sometimes another group arrives (though not scheduled on the calendar) and the assumption is made that they will lock up, when in reality, they don't have a key. Sometimes we just forget to lock a door at the conclusion of an event. Sometimes doors are even propped open to allow access to others arriving later, but the propped door escapes notice when things are over. I understand how some of these scenarios happen, and have been guilty of some negligence myself, on occasion, but we have to do better.
We have begun a campus audit of all buildings, especially church and Seton Hall. In the near future, we hope to develop better plans for the use of space and for securing doors and windows at the conclusion of events. In the mean time, I ask everyone to become more attentive to security and safety. If you plan to meet or use a space, please schedule it with the parish office. If you open a window, unlock or prop open a door, please take responsibility to close or lock it. Don’t assume it will be handled by someone else, as it might not happen. There’s too much at stake, especially the safety and security of every person who visits our campus.
November 6, 2022
What a week it's been! Our friends from El Salvador have been here this week. It's always a blessing to deepen the bonds of faith, cooperation and friendship between us. Having visited Palo Grande, Suchitoto, the Romero Community and other areas in El Salvador, the visit brought back a lot of great memories for me and connected me with the places our friends call home. I hope you had the opportunity to meet these extraordinary young people and hear about the faith, hope and enthusiasm that marks their journey.
As Election Day is this Tuesday, I always like to revisit the 7 Principles of Catholic Social Teaching prior to voting. These principles flow from Scripture, Papal Documents, Conferences of Bishops and our extensive lived tradition of engagement with the world:
1) Life and Dignity of the Human Person
2) The Call to Family, Community and Participation
3) Human Rights and Responsibilities
4) Preferential Option for the Poor
5) Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
7) Care for God's Creation
More information and reflection on these principles is available on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
October 30, 2022
Welcome to our friends from El Salvador! It has been a while and we are so happy to share our parish home with Leslie Schuld and the visiting students. It will be a busy week for our visitors, but we look forward to celebrating Mass with them next Sunday, along with a fiesta on Saturday evening. It will be great to hear how things are moving along in El Salvador, and to share faith and friendship as we continue to build this relationship.
As we begin the month of November, we have several Sacramental highlights on the schedule. All Saints’ Day, one of my favorite holy days, is this Tuesday. What a rich heritage of holiness we have in our friends the saints! I hope you can find some time in November to give thanks for favorite saints and to draw close to them in prayer. For St. Oscar Romero, St. Francis of Assisi, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Gregory the Great, St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, I am so grateful!
This Thursday we will celebrate a special Mass of Remembrance for our loved ones who have died over the past few years. It is always so powerful and humbling to gather and recognize our common grief and our faith-filled hope in the reality of the resurrection. All are welcome on Thursday, November 3, at 11:30am in the church.
Our school celebrates Grandparents’ Day this Friday. The legacy of faith at St. Elizabeth is so rich and deep because generations continue to embrace and practice faith. It inspires me to see how grandparents gather with their grandkids for Sunday Mass, support them in faith, sports and academics, and offer a foundation of love and encouragement as they continue to grow.
This is a busy, holy and eventful week. I hope your faith is strengthened and deepened by all the good thriving in our midst!
October 23, 2022
Every year in October we celebrate FIRE Week. FIRE is the Foundation for Inclusive Religious Education, whose mission is "To provide children with special needs the opportunity for an inclusive education in the Catholic schools they attend." Because of FIRE, all parish children can attend their parish school if they so choose. FIRE has had an amazing effect on our school, our parish, our families and our kids' lives. It enriches our community and expands the gifts and talents in our school. It gives all of us a deeper appreciation for the richness and diversity of human experience. And it teaches us all another dimension of kindness and community. As a school and as a parish, we give thanks for FIRE!
Every year, the FIRE Ball happens at the end of the week and serves as a great celebration of its mission. And along with the FIRE Ball is a contest to sell the most raffle tickets, which St. Elizabeth has frequently won over the years! Thank you for your generosity to this raffle and to keeping St. Elizabeth at the heart of FIRE's mission and success! Hopefully we will win again, but even if we don't, the ultimate victory is the continued strength and development of FIRE's mission.
It's been a very busy October, maybe busier than usual. We are in the midst of some very dynamic and exciting days. Keep enjoying the fall. Brief as it is, it is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year!