Pastor’s Keyboard

March 29, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastors keyboard: By now I think we are all tired of even hearing the word “Coronavirus”.  Yet it’s pretty much the topic of conversation of every news story, every conversation, and it often invaded our minds, even when we have other important topics we need to concentrate on.  Recently, I have had several parishioner’s and college student a ask me if this is a sign that we are in the End Times?  The answer is yes!  Ever since Jesus Resurrected, we have lived in the End Times.  It’s just that we often forget, don’t want to think about it, and that leaves many in our world unprepared for times like these.

An Exorcist friend of mine recently said that today the evil one and his minions are using these circumstances to their full advantage.  He said there is a lot if activity by demons of fear, gluttony, and destruction. He said that we all need to be aware of how they try to tempt us.  We can see this in our world today.  Sadly, fear has led several people to become paranoid to the point of trusting no one, not even God.  Gluttony has led people to by far more food and toilet paper then they could ever use, even knowing they are making it harder for others to have the bare necessities.  And destruction is the sickness. The hatred, anger and frustration that can come from getting sick, fear of sickness, and anxiety.  We need to be aware of these temptations and turn constantly to the Good Lord who has everything in hand.

Many have asked what I’m doing now that I am no longer celebrating public Masses… Saint John Paul II Seminary had to close, so they sent us four seminarians to live and work in our parish until the crisis is over. The seminary wants them to spend time in prayer and to help around the parishes. I want to thank all those, who upon hearing the news, came by with homemade food and groceries for us. We are blessed.  Three of these young men, who are studying for the priesthood, found their vocations here in the county while students at St. Mary’s Ryken High School. And these three seminarians, Christopher Feist, Joseph Brown, and Marcus Lloyd, have all served a Summer or two in our parish before.

The fourth Seminarian is Nicholas Morrison. He is assigned to us for the entire Summer and is currently studying at our flagship seminary in Rome, Italy.  He will be ordained a Transitional Deacon this Summer at the same mass with his older brother who will be ordained a Priest this year.  They also have a younger brother, Danny, who is a seminarian at Saint John Paul II Seminary.  I’ve known them since they were young children and I served as the spiritual director to their family for many years.  It’s a blessing for us, and pray God, we will be a blessing to them.

I don’t know what is to come in these strange Spring days leading into Summer.  I doubt we will have public Holy Week Services, so I encourage you to watch the Mass on EWTN or on the internet daily, if possible.

May these last weeks of Lent be an opportunity for us all to entrust everything (our health, wealth, families, friends, jobs, futures, nations, and world) into the Hands of Almighty God, who is still in charge and can bring so much good, even when there is so much bad going on.  Let us ask for a further outpouring of trust and hope every day!

Know that I’m still meeting with people every day for confessions, spiritual direction, counseling…. But that is if the outside weather permits these meeting, and we will be six feet apart.  The Lord will see us through, “Be Not Afraid”!

 

Your brother and father in Christ,

Fr. Scott Woods

March 22, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s Keyboard: Recently, a Seminarian told me about a saint I had never heard of before; Saint Corona. St. Corona was a mere 15 years old when she became Christian during Aurelius’ persecution around the year 165 AD. When it was discovered that she was a Christian, she was out comforting another Christian who was being tortured for his faith. She was immediately imprisoned and tortured. St. Corona was tied to the tops of two palm trees bent down to the ground. When the ropes holding the trees down were cut, the trees sprang away from each other and back to their upright position. The force was so strong that Corona’s body was ripped in half. According to Roman martyr lore, this happened in today’s Syria. She lived around 177 AD and she is the Patron Saint against plagues!!! Her feast day is celebrated in Germany and it is celebrated on May 14!

I want to encourage you to ask through the intercession of St. Corona that this modern-day plague be overcome quickly.  Let us ask this every day. God places saints in our lives to aid and encourage us. While many may get sick, and some die, none of us will have to endure what she endured for the Love of God.

We do have to endure a lot during this difficult time. This is why we need to pray on our own, pray as a married couple, and pray as a family.  Prayer truly does move mountains and can have a powerful impact in ways that we cannot see. Let us pray hard, trust much, and do our part to stay well and keep others safe.

Your Brother and Father in Christ Jesus,

Fr. Scott Woods

March 15, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s Keyboard: Nunc Coepi – this phrase made popular by Josémaria Escríva, translates to “Now, I begin”. What this means is that now I shall begin anew. Now is the time to begin again. If you have fallen in your Lenten fasts, that is alright; simply begin again. This is what Christ asks us to do. If we love Him, we will begin again, and again, and again. Never let yourselves be discouraged in any endeavor for God. The Father knows your heart. He understands that we are weak. He understands that we must fight our flesh in our fasting to separate ourselves from our attachments to this world and attach ourselves to God Himself.

Put your concerns, fears, and insecurities to rest in God. That inner voice that says since we have fallen, the rest of our days are now tainted; this is the voice that will distance us from God– whether it be from the evil one himself, or from our own insecurities. If the Father is truly a good Father, why would He get mad at His children for trying to do something good, even if they fall short the first time? He sees us all struggling and He knows our hearts. What He asks of us is devotion. What does devotion look like? It means that –whether we like it or not– we fulfill our tasks. Even if we don’t feel like praying, even if we don’t feel like fasting — we do it anyways.

It is good that we fight our attachments to worldly things to strengthen our will. When our will is strengthened, we put off less and begin to do more; whether that be staying away from the TV, calling a friend or going the extra mile or two in our work so that some else’s life is easier. This is a major part of God’s life in us, to show His love to others through us. This is the goal of our lives– to love. And if we do fall short, the solution is simple: begin again – Nunc Coepi.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Scott Woods

March 8, 2020 – Father Scott’s Policy and Procedures for the Coronavirus

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY AT FATHER SCOTT’S CHURCHES TO PRESERVE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL

First, we thank God that, until now, there had been no cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Maryland. Currently, however, three cases have been reported in Montgomery County and a State of Emergency has been ordered by Governor Larry Hogan as of March 5, 2020. Because of the anticipated rapid spread of the virus and in accordance with statements published by the ADW and Archdioceses around the country regarding the virus, the following 10 behaviors have been adopted for Father Scott’s churches to assist with the preservation of the health and safety of the parishioners, particularly at Mass:

  1. Do not come to Mass if you have any signs of a cold or a virus; a special dispensation is given to people who are sick for any reason to attend Mass. This dispensation applies in the case of any possibly contagious disease, even a common cold.

 

  1. Use a tissue or the inside of your arm to cover mouth when coughing or sneezing; then dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands.

 

  1. Wash frequently and thoroughly the back and front of hands with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available and rub your hands thoroughly; avoid putting your hands on your face.

 

  1. Avoid handshaking, touching, and hugging inside and outside of church.

 

  1. Note that the Sign of the Peace is suspended at Mass.

 

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY AT ST. CECILIA TO PRESERVE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL

 

  1. Note that the Blood of Christ will only be available via Intinction (Body dipped in the Blood of Christ).

 

  1. Understand that Catholics are not obliged to receive the Blood of Christ at all during communion (although it gives us a fuller sign of receiving holy communion), but we receive the fullness of Jesus in holy communion in the form of the host even when it is presented alone.

 

  1. Get in one of two lines during Communion: Father Scott’s line or the Eucharistic Minister’s line. Father Scott’s line will consist of only those who will be receiving both the Body and Blood of Christ via Intinction. The EM’s line will consist of only those who will be receiving only the Body of Christ.

 

  1. Note that Holy Water will not be present in the fonts at Mass in an effort to avoid the possibility of spreading germs from hands.

 

  1. Pray as a family for a cure; pray for those afflicted with the virus; ask to be spared from the virus.

 

Parishioners are encouraged to frequently monitor the status of the virus and flu with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and adherence to these changes in the traditions and procedures at Mass.

 

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Father Scott Woods

 

March 8, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s keyboard:  St. Clair of Assisi write years ago, “We become what we love. And Who we Love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming an image of the Beloved, an image disclosed through transformation.  This means we are to become vessels of Gods compassionate love for others”. This is truly the work that Lent is meant to do within us and through us. It is impossible without the Lord’s grace. That grace comes through the sacraments in abundance, and through prayer, scripture, alms giving, acts of kindness, and fasting. Let us seek these aids to our further conversion and transformation and that of the world this Lent.  Make this the best Lent of your life!

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Fr. Scott

March 01, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s keyboard:  It is not too late to give something up for Lent! If you are struggling to find something, please look at the list below for some great ideas.

Ideas for Penance or Prayer During Lent:

  • If you struggle with sloth: Only watch tv shows on Sundays
  • If you struggle with isolation: Cold shower twice a week
  • If you struggle with anger: 40 acts of kindness, one each day.
  • If you struggle with sloth or pornography: Fast from internet after dinner or keep your phone away from your bed, on another outlet.
  • If you struggle with bedtimes or sleeping in: Do the heroic minute” — which is, as soon as your alarm goes off, you get on your knees and thank God for the new day. NO snooze button allowed.
  • If you struggle with distraction during mass: Make a point to read the scriptures the day before you go to mass
  • If you struggle with spending money and budgeting: Do you buy too many clothes? Spend too much on dinner out? Pick one type of expenditure that you’ll “fast” from during Lent, and then give the money you would usually spend to a local charity.
  • If you struggle with isolation: Talk to a close friend or family from back home twice a week
  • Try a new spiritual practice– daily mass, rosary, adoration, spiritual reading, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, 10 minutes of silent prayer, spiritual direction, etc.
  • If you haven’t gone in a while: Go back to confession!
  • Social media: only use it on Sundays– or not at all!
  • Begin each morning on your knees, in prayer. When you go to bed, do the same.
  • No internet browsing, unless it’s for school or work. Or, set a timer and limit it to 10 minutes a day.
  • 40 Days of Silence: No media, podcasts, music
  • 30 minutes daily reading and praying with scripture (Lectio Divina)
  • No caffeine
  • Give yourself a set bedtime– and STICK to it!
  • No radio in the car
  • Don’t eat what you want (e.g. if you want waffles for breakfast, make eggs instead. Instead of drinking orange juice, drink water)
  • Give something away every day (clothing, money, etc.)
  • Read through a gospel/the gospels (pick a few lines or chapter each day, and stick with it)
  • Abstain from complaining (and examine your conscience every night to check yourself on this)
  • Abstain from interrupting or interjecting others (and examine your conscience every night to check yourself on this)
  • Fast every day like it’s Ash Wednesday (no meat; one normal meal, and two small meals that don’t equal the normal meal)
  • No sweets– but offer up the sacrifice for a person every day
  • No using the elevator, if you use it a lot
  • Abstain from eating in between meals
  • Abstain from video games
  • Do an intense exercise
  • Abstain from gossip (and examine your conscience every night to check yourself on this)
  • Give up your pillow
  • Give up alcohol
  • Give up checking your phone if you’re with other people
  • Give up cream and sugar in your coffee
  • Give up secular reading
  • Listen only to music that lifts the soul up to God.

February 23, 2020 – Pastor’s keyboard

Pastor’s keyboard:  By the time you read this, I will have come back from vacation with seven of my brother priests. The church encourages us to recharge after a very hectic Christmas season, and I have not done that until now. I would like to express my many thanks to the family friend of one of the priests I vacationed in my group.   We are staying at a home in South Carolina on Hilton Head Island.

Whenever I am invited to go on vacation, part of me never wants to leave.  I’m a lot like my dad. We love the work, and it often defines so much of who we are.  As a priest, I do not like the idea of leaving all of you, and the many task I could be accomplishing.  Yet repeatedly, I read in the New Testament of how Jesus took the apostles away (usually after a lot of work and travel) to a quiet place to pray, rest, and recharge. Yes, it does not say that exactly, but you get the gist of it.

I am one of those who would like it if I did not have to rest, but so often, I can feel the (mental and physical) batteries depleting by the end of Christmas.  I try to ignore it, but then I must remember I am only human. So, what do priest do on vacation? Somehow, I ended up going on vacation with priests who are all younger than myself, and mostly are athletes.  They keep talking of bike rides, paddle boarding, hikes, and various adventures.  For me, and for them, it is more time to pray, read, nap, and have great conversations about the Lord, His church, our parishes, families, and our interests.  It is simply wonderful.

Every day we go to a local parish for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we pray the Liturgy of the Hours five times a day, we pray the rosary, and offer Mass for you, for our families, and the world.  Every time I go away, I find that I cannot wait to return to the parishes, and my other ministries. Yet I am also reminded how much I need time to recharge my mind, body, and spirit.

Know that you are all in our prayers and Masses. Please continue to keep me in yours.  Lent is about to start, and I hope I am now ready.

Your father and brother in Christ,

Fr. Scott

 

February 9, 2020 – Summer Seminarian Update

Summer Seminarian Update: We received an email from our summer seminarian last week and wanted to share it with all of you.

Good Morning Family and Friends,

Happy Tuesday! I hope this message finds you all well. I am emailing with an update from seminary and an announcement of what I hope to be an interesting read on our seminary’s blog.

Seminary this semester was off to a beautiful start with a week-long silent retreat together in the wilderness of Malvern, PA. It was a wonderful time to recollect and prepare for all that is to come this semester and year. Shortly after we arrived back at the seminary from the retreat to begin the new semester, I received the news that the Archbishop of Washington would like to send me to the North American College in Rome, Italy for my major seminary assignment! I will be moving to Rome in mid-August to continue the last four-five years of my studies and preparations for the priesthood. I am extremely excited and looking forward to the grand adventure and for all that the Lord will do in these next years. What a blessing to spend such time in the Eternal City!

In another news, our seminary’s blog entitled Semantics (a play on the words semantics and seminarian!) publishes blog posts every Tuesday during the academic year. Today’s post is by me called “The Power of the Voice.” Below is a link to my post as well as two other posts written by my brother seminarians, one of whom was a former writer for The Wall Street Journal. Feel free to share the links with anyone interested and to explore the rest of the blog. (For a full list of all the previous posts, be sure to click the “Archives” tab in the blog homepage). This house is full of talented and gifted writers.

“The Power of the Voice” by Dylan Prentice: https://dcpriest.org/news/the-power-of-the-voice

“There Is Joy Here Too” by Isaiah Jilek: https://dcpriest.org/news/there-is-joy-here-too

“Is It Possible To Live This Way?” by Gerard Gayou: https://dcpriest.org/news/is-it-possible-to-live-this-way

Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers! You are all so important as I grow and develop into the priest that our Lord desires me to be for Him, His Kingdom, and His Church here on earth made up of you! Please continue to pray for me and my brothers as we continue on our journey. Know of my constant prayers for all of you.

On his memorial today, St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

God bless,

Dylan

February 2, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastors keyboard: This week there is such an important event, I had to move two Masses to make room for it!  It’s so important, a of day traffic all over the country disappears!  It’s so important, people like me who rarely watch sports will be tuned in for three or more hours watching it and, usually, even before it begins!  By now you probably guessed, I’m speaking of the Super Bowl!  It’s not a religious event for most of us but for some people it’s as close as they get.  It will not matter in the least to most who wins, but for some it will either make or break their week.  I must admit, it is one of those days I really look forward to.  Not because of who is playing, not because of the Sunday evening off, and not even for the commercials (most of which have become not so entertaining and way too sexualized), I like the fellowship!

For some years many of my brother priests get together all over the archdiocese to watch the game together (though we often mute the halftime show). It’s a time to enjoy food and conversation while hoping to watch the best athletes in football strive to do their best to win the game.  It’s a great reminder of St. Paul’s council that we should live our spiritual life like athletes who work their hardest to prepare and play their best to win.  He speaks of them as men who discipline their lives to win an earthly crown of fig leaves (common for the winner of a race in Ancient Rome), while today it’s for a trophy (made of gold).  Both are nice, both symbolize triumph and success, but ultimately, both are nothing compared the Glory of Heaven.

I like to learn about how hard these athletes have worked to succeed and become the men they are today.  It reminds me to ask myself how hard I am working in cooperation with the Grace of God to prepare for the end of my life.  Am I willing to sacrifice lesser foods for the greater good the Lord is asking of me?  Am I turning down the temptation to mediocrity to become a man of excellence in my prayer, family life, friendships, work life, and schoolwork?  Am I aiming to become my best self with a daily plan of life?  Am I becoming a man of virtue?  These are the questions I ask myself when reading about the sacrifices that great men and women athletes make to be a success.  When watching the Super Bowl this Sunday evening (hopefully in fellowship with others) I hope these self-reflection questions will be on your minds and maybe even lead you to some new or renewed New Year’s resolutions.  This way we will all be good athletes in the spiritual life, seeking to live so as to win that imperishable crown of Glory that God our Father wishes to bestow upon us all.

 

Your brother and father in Christ,

Fr Scott