Stewardship: Caring for God’s Creation: Gaudium Evangelii – Chapter 3, The Proclamation of the Gospel
Although it sounds obvious, spiritual accompaniment must lead others even closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom. Some people feel they are free if they can avoid God; they fail to see that they remain existentially orphaned, helpless, homeless. They cease being pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around themselves and never getting anywhere…
Today more than ever we need men and women who, on the basis of their experience of accompanying others, are familiar with processes which call for prudence, understanding, patience and docility to the Spirit, so that they can protect the sheep from wolves who would scatter the flock.
We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders.
It’s the First Sunday of Advent. One sentence in the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah stands out: “Yet, O Lord, you are our father, we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”
When I was in elementary school, we had art classes and one of the classes gave us the opportunity to work with clay and the potter’s wheel. Our teacher was good at shaping the wet clay, but when I tried it, I made a mess. She showed me how I had to be steady when I was trying to shape the clay and while I didn’t do a great job, I didn’t make a mess, either.
God is our potter – steady, attentive, concerned that we turn out correctly. Sometimes, we think that we can shape ourselves without God and that’s when we turn out to be a mess. Advent is a good time for us to put ourselves in God’s hands and allow the divine love to shape us.
Congratulations to our sisters and brothers in the RCIA who celebrated the Rite of Acceptance a few weeks ago. They have been attending classes each week since September and this is an important step in their moving forward. Congratulations to Joe Nuzzi and the RCIA Team for their dedication.
We hope that you nd the booklet that was given out for the season of Advent to be an inspiration as we go through this season that can be so distracting. Taking time each day to re ect on the day’s presentation in the booklet can keep us on the right track. There are also other Advent books available in the lobby of the Parish House. Check them out!
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
The friars and staff of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi would like to wish all of our parishioners and visitors a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday that unites all people of good will in our country, from all faiths and all backgrounds, in a day dedicated to pausing to thank God for all of the blessings of creation. We thank God for the world and its abundance, for the food we eat and the family and friends we share our lives with.
Here is a prayer you might like to use as you give thanks on Thanksgiving Day:
Thanksgiving Table Prayer
O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen
Here is our Mass schedule for the holiday:
Thursday, November 23, 2017 Mass at 11:30 AM only
Friday, November 24
Masses at 8:00 and 11:30 AM
Please note: There will be no Confessions, and the Church offices will be closed both days.
Leap of Faith
Today’s Gospel could be seen as an example of what St. Paul is explaining in the second reading. First, he tells us that the resurrection of Christ is not the end of God’s reign, but the beginning. Since death came into the world with the sin of Adam, Christ’s death saved us from sin and his resurrection saves us from death. Now that he is risen, he will complete his reign over all creation, meaning that everything in creation that turned away from God will now be subject to God. Since Christ had to die before he could rise, the last enemy to be subjected is death; so too do we have to die before we can rise.
When all this happens, everything will show God’s glory. God will be seen in all of creation. Jesus will be seen as equal to the Father, not just a man, but the Son of God. The Gospel gives us the image of a king on his throne, surrounded by his subjects. And then comes the final judgment.
The rest of the Gospel is symbolic description of that judgment. I always thought the point of this parable was that we recognize God in the poor, the sick, the homeless, prisoners, etc. But the people in the parable who helped all those in need did not recognize Christ in the needy. That’s why he tells them that whatever we do for “these least ones,” we do for Christ.
That is actually good news, because it is not always easy to recognize Christ in others. I used to think that once I start seeing Christ in all people, I’ll be more willing to help them. But it also works the other way. When you help someone in need, you begin to see Christ there, too. This means that we cannot use not seeing Christ in others as an excuse to put o helping them. (“Sure, I’ll help those drug addicts – as soon as I see Jesus in them.”) Whether it is a death-row prisoner or a homeless family, we need to take that leap of faith to help, not knowing if we will ever see Christ in them. Remember, God forgives and saves us because we need God, not because we deserve it.
© J. S. Paluch Co.
Fr. Felix has a long history here at St. Francis and was especially known for his compassion, patience, and support of those who came to him for confession. He was the “chosen” one for many people. He had a message to give whenever he preached and this message was lled with the wisdom of a man who had experienced much in his life as a Franciscan priest. He was always faithful to his duties and was always willing to do more. He was the oldest member of the Friar community at St. Francis, and will be missed by all of us and by the many people who waited in his confession line and by all. May he rest in peace.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
Wake: Sunday, November 19, 4:00 PM, Lower Church
Wake Service: Sunday, November 19, 7:30 PM, Lower Church
Funeral Mass: Monday, November 20, 11:00 AM, Upper Church
Funeral services for Father Felix McGrath, O.F.M. will begin this Sunday evening, November 19, with a wake in the lower church starting at 4:00 PM. A Wake Service will be held at 7:30 PM. On Monday, November 20, a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in the upper church starting at 11:00 AM. Provincial Minister Fr. Kevin Mullen, O.F.M. will be the principal celebrant.
Fr. Felix died on Monday, November 13, at the Riverside Premier Rehabilitation Center here in New York City following complications from recent surgery. He was 87 years of age, and a priest for 56 years.
He was born on May 14, 1930 in the Bronx where he attended Sacred Heart School and Cardinal Hayes High School. After being received into the Franciscan Order in 1954, he made frst profession of vows a year later, then studied theology in Washington, DC where he was ordained to the priesthood on February 25, 1961. His classmates included Fathers Mychal Judge, Patrick Fitzgerald, and Cassian Miles, who also lived and ministered here at St. Francis of Assisi. Following ordination, Fr. Felix ministered at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston; Immaculate Conception Church, Atlanta; and Sacred Heart Church in Rochelle Park, NJ. Next he spent fve years preaching parish missions, and then moved to St. Patrick’s Church in Bufalo, NY where he served from 1970 to 1973.
After a year of ongoing studies in Washington, he embarked on his longest ministry here at St. Francis of Assisi where he served for 43 years and became a popular confessor and preacher, loved by many people who came to him for counseling and advice. In addition, he served for many years as a weekend assistant at a church in Somerville, NJ and as Spiritual Assistant to the Secular Franciscans of the St. Thomas More Fraternity here.
Although quiet and unassuming by nature, Fr. Felix touched many people in his years of ministry. He had great compassion for those who were suffering emotionally and spiritually, and would spend as much time with them as they needed, whether in the confessional or in the parlor. Hoping never to have to retire from ministry, Fr. Felix wanted to keep working right up to the moment the Lord would call him. His fnal illness got in the way, though, but he was ready to do what the Lord asked of him. As we hear in this week’s Gospel: “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Come, share your master’s joy,” we are grateful to God for Felix’s life among us and are confdent that he is, indeed, sharing the Master’s joy.
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