“We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for ‘the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.’The church which shares with the Jews an important part of the sacred Scriptures, looks upon the people of the covenant and their faith as one of the sacred roots of her own Christian identity. As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we exclude the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God. With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept the revealed word.
Dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples. The friendship which has grown between us makes us bitterly and sincerely regret the terrible persecutions which they have endured, and continue to endure, especially those that have involved Christians.”
Here are the collections for March 2018 compared to March of last year.
With Holy Week and Easter in March, collections were generally higher than other months. Thank you to everyone who help us meet our financial needs. If you haven’t signed up yet for online giving, you can do so right now HERE.
We ask our members to offer 2.5% of their income as their tithe to the church.
Offertory Sunday Collections in church: $53,879
Online Sunday Collections: 20,953
Total Sunday Collections: 74,832
Total Weekday Collections: 16,968
Total Sundays and Weekdays: 91,800
Budgeted for March 2018: 83,333
Offertory Sunday Collections in church: $44,325
Online Sunday Collections: 6,131
Total Sunday Collections: 50,456
Total Weekday Collections:34,148
Total Sundays and Weekdays: 84,604
Budgeted for March 2017:83,333
John’s Gospel says: “I am the true vine and you are the branches.” Perhaps we’ve never considered our relationship with the Lord in these terms, but it points out the important “connection” that the Lord has with us and we have with him. He also says: “Remain in me, as I remain in you,” and “without me you can do nothing.” It is a very important “connection” that we have and any attempt to go off on our own might not prove to be wise. The purpose of our being “connected” with the Lord is that we may “bear fruit” and become his disciples. This Easter season reminds us of our becoming joined to the Lord Jesus. Every time that we are sprinkled with the Easter Water, we are reminded of our becoming part of the Body of Christ at Baptism. Let us be thankful for this blessing!
This Tuesday we continue with the 13 Tuesdays in preparation for the Feast of St. Anthony. It happens that this Tuesday, May 1, is also the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. In 1955 Pope Pius XII established the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, the same day as May Day or International Workers Day. The Holy Father wanted to emphasize the importance and dignity of work and the value of having a decent workplace. The day to day work of St. Joseph the carpenter serves as a model to workers. Come and celebrate St. Joseph!
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
Tuesday, 24 April 2018,
7:00PM in the Upper Church
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Come explore the various ways in which we can celebrate this awesome and unfamiliar feast with the full breadth of scripture, in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual setting, inspired, as well, by the great depth of music which is the Church.
More info at www.NPMNY.org.
“Commitment to ecumenism responds to the prayer of the Lord Jesus that ‘they may all be one.’ The credibility of the Christian message would be much greater if Christians could overcome their divisions and the church could realize ‘the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her children who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her.’
We must never forget that we are pilgrims journeying alongside one another. This means that we must have sincere trust in our fellow pilgrims, putting aside all suspicion or mistrust, and turn our gaze to what we are all seeking: the radiant peace of God’s face. Trusting others is an art and peace is an art. Jesus told us: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ In taking up this task, also among ourselves, we fulfill the ancient prophecy: ‘They shall beat their swords into ploughshares.’”
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the Gospel from St. John begins “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” Even though I grew up in the country, there were few sheep and no shepherds. The Gospel offers a job description of what a “good” shepherd should be. Of course, this is Jesus. It is worthwhile reading over this Gospel several times, allowing the content of the reading to speak to you. The second reading is also filled with positive thoughts: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God.” And then it adds:“Yet so we are.”This is what God thinks of us, each one of us in our uniqueness and individuality. We are indeed blessed by God. Let us be grateful!
There are two Pilgrimages that you might enjoy:
1. May 12-13 to Boston. Visit and Mass at St. Anthony’s Shrine, visit to Holy Cross Cathedral and visit and tour of the Kennedy Library. Check the Front Desk to sign up. Spaces still available.
2. Pilgrimage to Poland, and Easter Europe Nov. 5 to 16. Information and registration forms are available at reception desk. Spaces are still available, although they are going fast.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
“Rejoice and be glad!” is what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount. It’s also the title of Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation on holiness in everyday life. Why should we “rejoice and be glad”? Because God, as Francis reminds us, calls us all to be saints. But how can we respond to that call?
Well, here are five takeaways from Francis’ new and very practical exhortation.
1. Holiness means being yourself
Pope Francis offers us many examples of holy lives throughout this document: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the French Carmelite who found holiness in doing small tasks; St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuit founder who sought to find God in all things; St. Philip Neri, the founder of the Oratorians who was renowned for his sense of humor.
The saints pray for us and give us examples of how to live, but we are not meant to be cookie-cutter versions of them. We are meant to be ourselves, and each believer is meant to “discern his or her our own path” and “bring out the very best of themselves.” As Thomas Merton said,“For me to be a saint means to be myself.”
2. Everyday life can lead to holiness
You do not need to be a bishop, a priest or a member of a religious order to be holy. Everyone is called to be a saint, as the Second Vatican Council reminded us—a mother or a father, a student or an attorney, a teacher or a janitor. “Saints next door,” Francis calls them. All we need to do is to “live our lives in love” and “bear witness” to God in all we do.
That also doesn’t have to mean big, dramatic actions. Francis offers examples of everyday sanctity, like a loving parent raising a child; as well as “small gestures” and sacrifices that one can make, like deciding not to pass on gossip. If you can see your own life as a “mission,” then you soon realize that you can simply be loving and kind to move towards holiness.
You also do not have to be “swooning in mystic rapture” to be a saint or walking around with “lowered eyes.” Nor do you have to withdraw from other people. On the other hand, you do not want to be caught up in the “rat race” of rushing from one thing to another. A balance between action and contemplation is essential.
3. Two tendencies to avoid: Gnosticism and Pelagianism
Pope Francis may send people racing to either dictionaries or their theology textbooks when he asks us to avoid two dangers in the spiritual life.
The first is Gnosticism, from the Greek word gnosis, to know. Gnosticism is the old heresy that says that what matters most is what you know. No need to be charitable or do good works. All you need is the correct intellectual approach. Today, Gnosticism tempts people to think that they can make the faith “entirely comprehensible” and leads them to want to force others to adopt their way of thinking. “When somebody has an answer for every question,” says Francis, “it’s a sign that they are not on the right path.” In other words, being a know-it-all is not going to save you.
The second thing to avoid is Pelagianism, named for Pelagius, the fifth-century theologian associated with this idea. Pelagianism says that we can take care of our salvation through our own efforts. Pelagians trust in their own powers, don’t feel like they need God’s grace and act superior to others because they observe certain rules.
Today’s Pelagians often have, the pope says, “an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political advantages, punctilious concern for the church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige.” It’s a real danger to holiness because it robs us of humility, sets us over others, and leaves little room for grace.
4. Be kind
“Gaudete et Exsultate” is filled with Pope Francis’trademark practical advice for living a life of holiness. For example, don’t gossip, stop judging and, most important, stop being cruel.
That goes for online actions, too. Francis’ comments on this topic are memorable. Online, he writes, “defamation and slander can become commonplace… since things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, as people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others… In claiming to uphold other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or lying and ruthlessly vilifying others.”
To be holy, be kind.
5. The Beatitudes are a roadmap for holiness
As you might guess from the document’s title, the Beatitudes, Jesus’ list of “blessed ares,” are central to this exhortation. The Beatitudes are not only what Jesus means by holiness, they are also a portrait of our Lord himself. So we’re called to be poor in spirit, meek, peacemakers, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.
But let me focus on one beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful.” Pope Francis says mercy, one of the central themes of his papacy, has two aspects: helping and serving others but also forgiving and understanding. Jesus does not say, “Blessed are those who plot revenge!”
And what is Pope Francis’ overall summary of holiness? It’s based on the Beatitudes: “Seeing and acting with mercy.”
This article first appeared April 9, 2018 on the America magazine website, americamagazine.org.
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