Spiritual Resources

April 19, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s Keyboard: The Easter Season has finally come! Now we have 50 days in which to dive more deeply into deep prayer and study and meditation on the Resurrection of Jesus.  So grate, so magnificent, so consequential-is this event, the church actually gives us 50 days to enter more deeply into it.  Yet we should not leave all the penances of Lent behind.  Recently a good priest friend of mine, who is often led by the Holy Spirit, sent a powerful message out to his Parishioners that I felt was truly inspired by the Lord.  One that we should all embrace and strive to live.  He wrote the following:

“I believe that we are at halftime of this pandemic battle. The Triduum was the Coach’s pep talk. But now comes LENT II. That is right all you LENT LOVERS. I feel in my heart that for the first time in my 31 years of life (LOL), I now see Lent differently. I believe that the evil one is going to mock Christians more than ever after today. WHY? Here is what I hear in my prayer: “If your Christ is so great and can come out of a tomb, how come you still have to wear a mask?”

I believe that now you and I have to make the decision to live this Lent differently. Before it was an obligation, but now is it LOVE. In the first Lent, I chose my sacrifices and mortifications. In Lent II, Christ is choosing. In Lent 1, it was 40 days and I wore purple. In Lent II, it will be 50 days (to Pentecost) and I will wear white. Lent I – no Gloria at Mass and very subdued. Lent II must be lived in the joy of the GLORIA and great hope. I hope I am clear. More than ever, the choice to love Christ and His Church is no longer just an obligation but a choice. And in my heart, I hear – to be a saint, you must choose Christ, love, joy and hope.

So, to answer the question that many have asked … Now what? For me – I am not stopping. I hope you won’t either. The evil one is very patient. He wants us to give up our mortifications and spiritual programs. Don’t. It is only halftime. I’m choosing to continue. Now it’s up to you. What will you choose?

Thanks, Jesus – what a great Lent. Thank you, Jesus, for finding a WAY for your Mercy to be shown, TRUTH communicated, and LIFE poured out.

In Christ,

Fr. Dan”

So, I, too, as your pastor, invite you to enter Lent II.  Maybe continue some Lent practices and take on some new ones or to change it up choose some new ones you can unite to the cross as we ask the Lord to get us and those we love safely through this pandemic and that He will help us become more trusting, more faithful, more peaceful in it and through it.  It will not be easy, but since the Lord has allowed it, we can be assured that He will offer sufficient grace to make it through.  Pray much, read more scripture (especially the gospels and Paul’s Letters), and make a good plan of life that includes exercise, spiritual and leisure reading, family time (if possible), and a good sleep and wake up time.  These two will help you be healthy in mind, body, and spirit

Your brother and father in Christ,

Fr. Scott Woods

April 12, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s Keyboard: Blessed Easter! The Lord is Risen! The Lord has Risen! And at every moment, He calls us to “Rise with Him and In Him!” The circumstances of this Easter Morning are not as they have ever been in our lifetime before and, most likely, they are not what they will ever be again. Yet for those who Know the Lord “All things work together for good to those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:21. Not some things but ALL things! Though we don’t understand and though we experience suffering and, perhaps, doubt, He does not leave us or abandon us or those we love.

Today, we celebrate that the Lord rose from the dead, and He desires that we arise with him. But how can we arise with Him daily? We can do so by dying to our will, to our way, and to sin as well as to anything that distracts us from trusting in Him completely in ALL circumstances. We are reminded by our Lord’s death and resurrection that this life and everything in it is finite. We were made for the Infinite. If we cling tightly to this life and the things of this life, we are bound to suffer and despair when they are taken away from us. But if our hope and desire is tied to God to the glory and joys of eternity with Him who is unending Love personified, and to all those united to Him, then we will have a joy that shines out even in the deepest darkness and circumstances of this life.

So yes, this Easter Sunday is not like any we have or ever will experience again. Yet its message of promise and hope-filled encouragement is the same as ever. God is eternal and He offered us hope for eternity with Him and all those we love who accept His invitation to be with Him. The adventure of this life will continue now, yet it will never be as it was. We know now like never before that as powerful as our nation has been, as technologically advanced as our world is today compared to the past, as wealthy and healthy as our economy may seem, and as much as we take care of our health through eating right and exercise, something can come along, even from another part of the earth, and take it all away.

In the end, there is only one Rock that we can stand on, only one Source of endless life and joy that we can hope in, only one Hope worth investing everything in, and it is not a country, a technological advance, a bank account or job, nor any other man made thing. It is the Risen Christ! He is the One, who loves us into existence and who is always calling us to rise in the expectation and hope of eternity with Him! This Hope is why we can rejoice, sing and laugh in ALL circumstances.

Let us make a recommitment to invest most in our relationship with Him. Then, we will become the saints He made us to be and who will lead others to also have this hope and faith. The Lord is Risen today! May we do the same!

 

Your Father, brother, and fellow disciple,

Fr. Scott Woods

April 5, 2020 – Seminarian Introduction

Hello Everyone!  This here is Nicholas Morrison.  I am the seminarian who has been assigned to the parish with Fr. Scott for the summer.  With all the virus craziness, I have returned from school and have come to the parish here a few weeks early.  I am super excited to be here at the parish, and look forward to meeting you all and serving you all in the months to come.

As a way of introduction, here is a little about myself.  I come from a family of seven kids in Montgomery County, MD.  I was born into a family of dentists, as both my parents and multiple other family members are dentists.  I was homeschooled growing up, all the way through high school.  Despite all odds, I would judge my homeschooled family maintained some normalcy and were quite socialized.   We were very involved in sports and numerous activities growing up.  Swimming was my family’s main sport, although I enjoy playing just about everything.  I studied music, playing piano and picking up various other instruments along the way.  I have enjoyed being member of numerous choirs over the years, both church choirs and others.  To round it all out, I was also in a Shakespeare drama group and would put on performances with many of my friends in high school.  The parish has always been pretty central in my life and in that of my family.  Youth group was something I really enjoyed being apart of growing up, as well as serving Mass and being part of the church choir.

I began studying in the seminary right after high school.  I attended St. John Paul II Seminary, following on the heels of my older brother (Dcn. Jamie Morrison, who is currently preparing for priestly ordination), and later also being joined in seminary by our younger brother (Danny Morrison).  As part of seminary formation, I studied philosophy at Catholic University for four years.  After completing my courses at Catholic University, I was sent to Rome to begin tackling courses in theology.  It has been a huge blessing to study in Rome, right there in the heart of the Church.

I currently have now finished nearly seven years in formation, and have just over a year left before priestly ordination.  This summer will be a big step for me, as I hope to be ordained a deacon in just a few short weeks.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you all remain safe and healthy.  I am thrilled to be here at the parish, and hope to meet you all soon enough!  Know of my continued prayers for you, and please don’t forget to keep me in your prayers as well!

– Nicholas Morrison

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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