Pastor’s Keyboard

February 3, 2019

Pastor’s Keyboard: It was in seventh grade that the idea of reading the Bible cover to cover first came to me.  There was only one problem.  My family had only one Bible, it was a gift to my parents on their wedding day.  It was a huge white King James Bible.  The words were beautiful when they came off the tongue. It difficult to understand.  So, I got a dictionary to lay beside my Bible as I read it as often as I could over a number of months.  The only problem was that some of the words that meant one thing in the 1600’s meant something very different in the 1900s.

Nevertheless, I fell in love with it especially when I got to the gospel and the epistles of St Paul. At times in the Old Testament I felt like I was there with Moses and the Israelite people, I was with David in his journey to become King.  And then I met our Jesus and walked with him from birth till death and resurrection.  I then traveled with his apostle Paul on his many journeys and eventually ended up at the end and beginning of all things in the book of Revelation.

I can’t say I understood it all or liked it all (especially Chronicles).  Yet the Word of God became alive for me and I have found sustenance, comfort, encouragement, mercy, and correction in it ever since.  When I finally became a Catholic, I was amazed by how much scripture was in the hymns, prayers, and actions of the Mass.  Because of the way the Lectionary was put together I started to see like never before why both the Old and New Testament were valuable and necessary to understand each other. We have such a great treasure in scripture that I worry we don’t take advantage of nearly enough.  The Mass is literally soaked in scripture!  I fear that we miss so much of it and I am so sad when those who have left the practice of the faith will say that they never heard the Word of God till they left.  When the fact is, they heard it every Sunday filling every crevice of the Mass.  But that’s it!  They Heard but did not Listen.  This is the danger for us too every Sunday and for some every day.  Let us together make a new commitment to not only hear the Word of God through every Mass each Sunday but to listen out for it!  Then we will always be fed by it (whether the homily and the music is good or bad) , we will always be inspired (no matter how much we struggle to overcome sin and at times fall), we will always know we are loved (even when some around us don’t speak or act loving toward us, sadly at times even in the house of the Lord they do this), and we will have Joy!  A joy and confidence that nothing and no one can take from us!  Be Attentive! Christ wants to speak to you Now!!!

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Fr Scott

January 27, 2019

Pastor’s Keyboard: From the Last Supper till now unto the end of the world the church has recognized that there is no higher prayer, no higher way to praise the Lord then to pray the Mass and especially the Sunday Mass.  Yet today, I fear many do not know this, or recognize it, or believe this truth.  How do I know this?  Because the weekly Mass attendance rate has plummeted to the lowest percentage since Catholics first came to these shores over two hundred years ago.  And because many young adult Catholics and younger have checked out of the faith in even greater numbers than their parents and grandparents.

Now there are many reasons for this. Certainly, the rapid growth of secularism, the clergy abuse scandals currently being brought to light, and the fact that many were not raised with God and worship as a priority, along with the predominance of sports.  These are but some of the reasons.  Yet the truth of the gospel and the need for God and the worship of the Lord are even more needed today.  So, what can we do to reverse this trend?

First, strive to become Saints ourselves.  How?  By attending Mass as many days, a week as we can.  There are many, many Masses through the county at different times every day.  If your retired, you should especially make Mass a priority, for you now have more years behind you then ahead of you and you want to really receive all the graces you can before your final judgement (lessen purgatory time).  Next, read and meditate on the word of God and when possible go to Bible study, you can’t live what you don’t know.  Third, have a prayer schedule and stick to it.  We should talk to the Lord at set times of day and whenever we are doing monotonous tasks.

Next, we need to go after our realities and friends who have dropped out or have yet to begin to give their lives to Jesus.  Not by bugging them to death but by inviting them and by our willingness to go out of our way to help them to come.  I know a couple at St Peter Claver who every week drive far out of their way to pick up their great nephews to bring them to Mass.  How many of us have grandchildren, nieces and nephews, godchildren whom we could offer to bring to Mass?

Then we need to ourselves strive to appreciate much more the gift we have in the Mass.  We should strive to come early to pray in silence before the Blessed Sacrament to prepare mind, body, and soul to worship the Lord. We should strive to meditate on the Sunday readings and to give ourselves fully to the prayers of the Mass.

These are but a few of the many ways we can grow to love the Lord through the Mass and to lead others to Him.  We are offered many blessings through the Masses we attend every week and through those offered for us every day.  Let us share the good news and make sure this endless treasure is not only valued but adored by all those we love.

 Your Father and Brother in Christ,

Fr Scott

January 20, 2019

Pastor’s Keyboard:

No doubt most, if not all, of you have either read in the paper or heard on tv about the latest revelations of what Cardinal Wuerl knew about accusations made in 2004 against then Cardinal McCarrick by a former priest of Pittsburgh during the time he was a seminarian studying for the diocese of Pittsburgh.  He said the incident took place some years back when Archbishop McCarrick was then Archbishop of Newark, NJ. Then Bishop Wuerl reported this to the Vatican Ambassador who then sent on the information to Rome.  In doing this he did the right thing since only the Pope can handle an accusation against a bishop.

Forward to this summer, when it became clear that then Cardinal McCarrick had been accused by two men of abuse when they were minors and by former seminarians of his past two Diocese, Cardinal Wuerl was asked about his foreknowledge of any such allegations against then Cardinal McCarrick before the summer. Cardinal Wuerl said he had never heard of such allegations before the summer.  Yet now it comes to light that he not only received the testimony of this former priest in 2004 but that he reported it to authorities in Rome at the time.  The Cardinal has now said at the time of the interviews he was only referring to abuse of minors, not of adults.  He said he was asked about minors and so that’s what he referred too. He also said that at the time of the former priest’s testimony against then Cardinal McCarrick he (the former priest) asked that this not be made public.  But this summer when allegations came to light by former seminarians of Meteuchen and former Newark seminarians against then Cardinal McCarrick he (the former priest) made his allegations public.  Cardinal Wuerl in his latest statement on the priest’s accusations (now made public through the Washington Post) said that he had forgotten the 14-year allegation.

Just this week all the priests of the county met as we do every month to discuss how things are going in the parishes and in our priesthood.  These latest revelations and the response of the Cardinal clearly has dominated our thoughts, prayers and conversations.  How do we hold on when so many in leadership in the church have come to disappoint us or have caused us to feel so much justified anger and disgust?

I go again to the reply of a young adult catholic when asked this question recently.  He said, “Not one word of the truths that Jesus Christ taught in the scriptures or revealed through divine revelation in His church have been proven false, only some of the men who were supposed to live them and teach them have failed to live up to their promises to Christ and His flock.  I’m not going to let their unfaithfulness to Christ and His teaching make me unfaithful to Him.”

At every Mass, Jesus still transforms bread and wine into His body and Blood, at every confession he still wipes away sins and bestows an abundance of grace on those who choose to receive it, at every reception of the sacrament of the sick he still works healing in souls and at times in bodies.  These have not and never will change, they were given by our Lord to be distributed by His church and they focus us even more upon our Lord and our call to Holiness.

We must pray for all those effected by this abuse crisis and those who have perpetrated these crimes against them.  We must pray that the Lord continue to cleanse His church so that all of His teachings might shine through every Catholic.  We must not let discouragement and sadness at the revelation of these past evils stop us from staying faithful to Christ and the Church He gave us.

Some years ago, Pope Benedict XVI said these words at World Youth Day, “The true reformers of the church are not those who lead her but the Saints!”  We are called to answer the call to be saints today, and to work to advocate for greater accountability and faithfulness from our leaders in the Archdiocese and the Vatican.

These are not easy times to be a Catholic or a priest ministering to His Flock.  Yet the Lord is calling us to be part of the healing and accountability that He wants in His Church today.

So, what can we do?  First, pray daily for all victims of sexual abuse by clergy (and the even larger number who have been abused by family members and others)!  Pray that the Pope soon appointment a new Archbishop who is very Holy and can bring healing and unity in the flock of God!  Pray for the faithful bishops and priests to stay faithful to our promises and to become the Saints and pastors God is calling us to be!  Offer up penances and sacrifices for the purification of the church especially as we prepare for Lent!  When the new Archbishop is appointed, make sure to let him know that you want to see accountability for bishops as we have for the priests and we want Rome to do a thorough investigation of how Archbishop McCarrick could have gotten away with this for so long and yet risen so high! But the most important thing we can all do is to respond, ourselves, to the Lords call to an ever-deepening relationship of Love with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  To become Saints and to bring as many of our family members, friends, neighbors and fellow parishioners with us as we can! This is a high call and a tough task, yet with Gods Help all things are possible!

Your Father and Brother in Christ,

Fr Scott

January 13, 2019

Pastor’s Recommendation: Our Lady of Kibeho: Our Lady Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa by Immaculee Ilibagiza

Book Description: Thirteen years before the bloody 1994 genocide that swept across Rwanda and left an estimated 800,000 people dead, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ appeared to eight young people in the remote village of Kibeho. Through these visionaries, Mary and Jesus warned of the looming holocaust, which (they assured) could be averted if Rwandans opened their hearts to God and embraced His love. Mary also sent messages to government and church leaders to instruct them how to end the ethnic hatred simmering in their country. She warned them that Rwanda would become “a river of blood”—a land of unspeakable carnage—if the hatred of the people was not quickly quelled by love. Some leaders listened, but very few believed. The prophetic and apocalyptic warnings tragically came true during 100 horrifying days of savage bloodletting and mass murder. Much like what happened at similar sites such as Fátima and Lourdes, the messengers of Kibeho were at first mocked and disbelieved. But as miracle after miracle occurred in the tiny village, tens of thousands of Rwandans journeyed to Kibeho to behold the apparitions. After the genocide, and two decades of rigorous investigation, Our Lady of Kibeho became the first and only Vatican-approved Marian (related to the Virgin Mary) site in all of Africa. But the story still remained largely unknown. Now, however, Immaculée Ilibagiza has written the book, Our Lady of Kibeho: Our Lady Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa, concerning the visions that will help spread Our Lady’s message that was meant for the whole world both then and now. She has made many pilgrimages to Kibeho, both before and after the holocaust, has personally witnessed true miracles, and has spoken with a number of the visionaries themselves. What she has discovered will deeply touch your heart!

As your pastor and spiritual father, I beg you to read this book!  Father Scott

 

Immaculee Ilibagiza who is a Rwandan Genocide Survivor and NEW YORK TIMES best-selling Author will be speaking Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at Saint Andrew Apostle in Silver Spring, MD. For three terrifying months during the horrific 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, Immaculee and seven other women hid for their lives in the tiny, secret bathroom of a local pastor. Amidst the ordeal, Immaculee discovered the power of prayer especially the Rosary and a profound and lasting relationship with God, which enabled her to seek out and forgive even her family’s killers. She now remains devoted to sharing the importance of faith, understanding, unconditional forgiveness and the message of Our Lady Kebiho especially as a devotion to the Sorrowful Mother. Admission is $10 in advance ($15 at the door) to help defray Immaculee’s travel expenses. Register now at https://standrewapostle.org/immaculee-ilibagiza/

January 6, 2019

Pastor’s Keyboard:

Merry Christmas! Is it still Christmas? I’m happy to say that we still have a week more to celebrate the coming of our Lord! This week we celebrate the Feast of the Three Kings. Why? Because, in the Three Kings, we see the pilgrimage that we are all called to make throughout our lives. We have seen Jesus’ star rise in the East, we have journeyed to follow Him, and now that we have encountered Him, we are called to tell the world the good news that the Savior has come.

In a number of European countries this is the day that children receive their Christmas presents. Why? Because they believe that we should not receive them until Jesus receives His presents. This is also a day when we are called to ask ourselves, “What can I give the Christ child?” The answer is, “myself.” This is the present that our Lord wants most. He wants us to give ourselves in service to Him, the church, and our neighbor. Since we are still in the beginning of this new year, this a good time to ask ourselves, how well have I served God, the church, and my neighbor this past year, and what can I do to serve them better in the year to come? The past is gone, the future may not come, all we have is today, let us live it well.

God has given to us the greatest present we could ever receive, His son Jesus. But like any present, unless we open the box, it is useless. The box is your heart, your mind. Let us be open to receive the Lord and we will be filled with His most Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your faithful!

 

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Fr Scott

December 30, 2018

Pastor’s Keyboard:

             As you go through the stores and shops you will notice that almost all the Christmas decorations are gone or reduced in price considerably. As you drive around town you will see most of the lights and yard decorations have been taken down, packed, and stored for next year. That is because to most of the world Christmas is over. However, I want to remind you that for us as Catholics, Christmas Day was not the end of Christmas but the beginning; it was not the culmination of the celebrations, but the start. The Church celebrates Christmas for an octave (eight days). For those who come to daily Mass, they will notice that for the eight days after Christmas, we still sing the Gloria and we still light the church full of Christmas lights and candles, just as on Christmas Day. Why? Because this event, this mystery, this act of love for mankind, is so great the church has it overflow into eight days of celebration and feasting. After this, the Christmas season continues for a couple of weeks that only end with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord.

So, don’t live this time solely in anticipation of the celebration of New Year’s Eve, as so much of the secular media do. Keep feasting on your favorite foods (though in moderation), trimming the Christmas tree, singing Christmas carols, and wishing everyone you see a Merry (or better yet a Blessed) Christmas. Continue to use these days to read the scripture passages about the birth of our Lord and the early years of our Lord on earth. Continue to dive into the mystery of the God who became man, the Lord who became like His servants, the King who came to conquer with love and peace. In this way, you will come to know and understand better than ever before what it means to celebrate what God has done for you, me, and the world.

 

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Fr Scott

December 23, 2019

Advent Reflections:

As we approach these last few days of Advent in preparation for the birth of our Blessed Lord, let us reflect on the Gospel that Holy Mother Church gives to her faithful on this Fourth Sunday of Advent. Elizabeth is visited by the Blessed Virgin after the Annunciation, which was the moment at which God assumed a human nature and was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, a solemn feast which is celebrated by the Church nine months prior to Christmas on March 25. This visit is characterized by the joy of the presence of Mary and her Divine Son in utero, a joy which even causes St. John the Baptist to leap in the womb of his mother. Why is there this joy, a joy so powerful it even penetrates to the interior of Elizabeth, into her very womb? This question is answered in reference to the ritual and liturgical life of the Church because, indeed, the celebration of the birth of our Lord culminates in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thus, it is the Mass, which is primarily and at its core the sacramental re-presentation (the making present again in a sacramental way) of the one historic sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary for our salvation, which gives intelligibility to Christmas. What is that intelligibility? It is the end to which Christmas is ordered: the grace and salvation wrought in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, which we actually, truly, and really participate in every time we attend Mass. Thus, the joy of the incarnation, the same joy that Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist experienced, the joy of Christmas, wherein humanity finally sees the incarnate Lord, finds intelligibility in the salvific cross, in which we directly participate in the offering of the Eucharist at Mass. Therefore, in seeking a Christ-centered Christmas and, indeed, a Christ-centered life, one must recognize the necessity of a Eucharist-centered Christmas and life, since the Eucharist is our earthly means of participation in Christ’s saving and sacrificial act, the very reason for Christmas and our joy at the birth of our Lord. Let us flock to the Eucharist this Christmas, let us ensure we are prepared to receive our Lord in Holy Communion through the Sacrament of Confession, and let us rejoice like Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist, praising God and imitating our Lady according to the words of Elizabeth in the Gospel: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Father Scott’s Helper

December 16, 2018

Pastor’s Keyboard: This is the third Sunday of Advent; however, the fourth week is a very short one. So, this is it! We are almost there, Christmas is around the corner, you can almost hear the drum beat getting louder. As I have talked with friends and family, many are worried. They have done little to no shopping, some (like myself) have yet to begin their decorating, which means everyone else’s decorations make me feel more stressed. And many say they are behind with their Christmas cards. Yet not one of the things I just named really have anything to do with proper preparation for Christmas. Walmart, Kay Jewelers, and Hallmark would have us believe differently.

The truth is that these are all traditions, some old, some new, that have sprung up around the Christmas season. Yet they are not the center, they are not the reason for the Season: Jesus is. Realizing how caught up I was beginning to get in this secularized preparation for the season, as a young priest I decided to slow down the week before Christmas and the week after. I try to keep both weeks as free as possible by only scheduling what I consider essential meetings, I then try to spend even more time in prayer and meditation on the coming of our Savior. I also try to spend more time with friends and family.

One of the great themes of the Advent Season is preparation not so much for the celebration of Jesus’ first coming, but for His second coming. This is what Advent is about; it tries to focus us on the gift that God gave to us, that we may prepare to make a gift of ourselves to Him. In writing this I am not encouraging you to stop buying your spouse presents, nor am I saying don’t decorate. What I fell I must say, more to myself perhaps then to you, is: do not allow these things to crowd out what should be our true preparation for the coming of Christ, prayer, mercy, and love for our fellow man. Have a blessed Advent Season!

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Fr Scott

December 9, 2018

Pastors Keyboard: A friend of mine recently gave me this quote “Wounded people wound people, healed people heal people.”  With my thoughts, with my words, with my actions, I either wound or I heal.  Jesus is often seen in the gospels healing people.  In fact, the blind, the lame, the disfigured, and the sick flock to him for healing.  Those with these physical ailments know they are sick, but we who have these same ailments, though of the mind and spirit, often don’t choose to acknowledge them and therefore can’t bring them to Him who can heal all our ills.

There is another old saying “Before God says go, he says, come.”  He wants us to come to Him with our sins, blindness, weaknesses, to admit to our need for Him and ask for Him to heal us.  This healing is a process, yet as we grow in Christ, we become healers, those who in thought, word and action bring Christ’s truth, love, and hope to the world.  This happens because as members of the Body of Christ the more we conform our hearts to His, through cooperation with His grace, we become like stain glass windows that allow Him to shine through us out into a darkened world.  But first we ourselves need to allow Him to show us where it is, we need to grow in virtue and knowledge of His truth. Then He will send us out to spread that healing message to all the world.  This is the reason we should especially strive to go to reconciliation frequently, pray daily, and review our consciences every night.  It is a long road but one that leads us and those we lead to Jesus and eternal Happiness.  That’s the road less traveled but worth traveling every day.

 

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Fr Scott

December 2, 2018

Pastors Keyboard: As a priest, I made a promise to pray for the entire church and world five times a day, every day for the rest of my life.  The prayers are mostly made up of psalms from the Book of Psalms in the Bible.  As a teenager, whenever I was really upset or frustrated or angry with God, parents, friends, anything or anyone I often went to the book of Psalms to find one or more that could help me express these strong emotions to God the Father.  I always especially liked to go to them when I was really upset with God Himself.  Why, because I knew it came from a deep place and I needed to express that frustration and but not let it lead me to a dark place.  The beautiful thing is that a number of the psalmists (those inspired by God to write them) also had the same frustrations, and confusion as we at some of the things God did or allowed into their lives.  At times the psalms express this anger and feelings of betrayal in a much more blunt and direct way then I would have ever allowed myself, if I were not using the words of scripture.

Yet they always came back to trust in the Lord,  trust in His plans even when they could not understand them or see how they could end well.  The psalms allowed me to go up to the edge of the cliff and then lead me back to a place of deeper trust, hope, faith, and comfort then I could have had on my own.  I always tell people in difficult circumstances, who find themselves horrified by their frustration or anger with the Lord, to find and pray a Psalm that best helps them to express their current emotions to Him and then He will work through it to lead them back.  Not once has anyone ever not come back and thanked me for leading them to this rich Well of prayer.  It is not just for the priest, religious, monk, Holy retired person, but the Book of Psalms is waiting for us all.  No matter what the sorrow, joy, frustration, anger, hope, or injustice you are experiencing there is a psalm that is waiting to help you pray and heal.  Find your favorite psalm, memorize it and experience the power of Christ’s Word in your life in a new way that will always move you closer into the relationship you and I were made for.

Your Brother and Father in Christ,
Fr Scott
Psalm 133:2