Church of the Sacred Heart

Building a community of hope in Monroe New York

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Thanksgiving Day/Christ the King Message

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

How wonderful that our nation has a day set aside to offer “thanks.”   Wouldn’t you agree that today is more of a religious holiday than a civic holiday?  When you think about it, at a time in our nation’s history when it is not politically correct to mention the name of God in a public manner, especially at civic functions, Thanksgiving Day may be, in fact, the one remaining day on our nation’s calendar that truly keeps us connected to our roots as a country…a reminder of the very essence of our existence.   After all, to whom are we giving thanks?  GOD of course.  The very God, in fact, that we as Catholics give thanks to every time we gather for Eucharist, the very word in Greek that means thanksgiving.  

 It is such a wonderful sign of hope in the midst of the secularization of our country that we haven’t completely forgotten the very reason for our existence as the land of freedom, namely to worship God.  And just in time…right on the heels of the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday.   Who knew that the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Christ would one day become a cause for sales and best buys.  I believe our heavenly Father had a very different kind of Friday in mind when He gave us the gift of His Son, Christ the King. 

 Why do we get so lost as a country when it comes to the First Commandment, namely, making God first in our lives?  Why have we for the most part allowed separation of Church from state to become elimination of God from state? Why has the sacred been shoved aside to make room for the secular?  As always, it comes down to one very powerful word:  FAITH.  It seems that too many people pin their hopes on having a “little bit of luck” as the lottery commercial goes, rather than on having a “little bit of faith,” as the Gospel teaches.  In the name of a false sense of freedom, we all too often find ourselves living as if there is no God or even worse, that I am God.  Is it a simple forgetting about God’s presence or a deliberate act of not acknowledging the reality of His existence so that I can do whatever I want?  If only our country, as a whole, could just have an ounce of the faith that sustained the Pilgrims as they made their way across that treacherous ocean to Plymouth Rock.  They came here to America not because one day Burger King would promise you could have it “your way,” but because Christ the King promised freedom and happiness if you do it “My way.”

As we celebrate this great Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of our Church year, let us renew the commitment that was made at our Baptism and Confirmation, namely, to build the Kingdom of God.  May God give us the graces we need to make Him first in everything and to truly live what we pray so often in the Lord’s Prayer, namely, “Thy will be done.”  We give thanks this Thursday for the freedoms that allow us to not only say these words but to live them.  Let us remember on that day as well that we too are Pilgrims making our way towards the shores of the Eternal Land of Freedom.  Like those first Pilgrims we too have gotten our start at a rock…the one Jesus spoke of when He said, “Peter, you are the rock on which I will build My Church.”  

Know that I give thanks for all of you and for the privilege of being able to serve you as your pastor.  I will remember you and your families at Mass on Thanksgiving Day. 

 

In prayer,

 

Fr. Tom

 

A reflection on Catholic Schools on the occasion of the Sr. Norbert Golf Classic

Advent 2014 Message

November 30, 2014

Happy New Church Year!

There is joy in a new beginning.  It is an experience of the new beginning of creation and our own personal creation at the very hands of God.  It is the experience of the promise of re-creation at Baptism with the birth of our Lord into the world at Christmas.  The coming of Christ the King into our world meant His coming into our hearts…that each of us could become a new creation…become part of a new covenant…live in a new world…a world without sin…a world of perfect love.  The coming of Christ means the coming of the Kingdom. 

 At our Baptism we entered into the mystery of the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection all at once.   Each Advent we have the opportunity to enter more fully into these sacred mysteries by celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The experience of confession is where we allow ourselves to continue the work of being re-created in the image and likeness of God.  It is where we are prepared to enter more fully into that Sacrament of Love called the Eucharist...the sacramental experience of God’s kingdom on earth, the very Presence of the Infant Savior. 

 As we light the candles of our Advent Wreath each week, it is as if we are marking off the passage of time not only towards the joy of Christmas, but towards that day we hear about in the Book of Revelation when the entire world is re-created…the day when we experience the coming of God’s Kingdom in all of it’s fullness and glory…the coming of that day which marks the beginning of eternal Christmas joy.  Are our hearts ready to embrace all of the joy that God wants to pour into our hearts?  In other words, are there other things taking up space in our hearts/lives that we are making more important than the gift of God’s love and joy that He would rather put there?  Are we harboring grudges?  Have we not let go of sins and offences toward God and our neighbor taking up space in our hearts by asking God to take them away through confession?  Are there are amends we need to make in our relationships with others?  Is there some habit or vice in our life that is an obstacle to Christmas joy?  If we are honest with ourselves, everyone of us can answer, “yes,” to one, some, or all of these questions to one degree or another.   

 There is hope!!  Let the love of the Advent and Christmas season pour into your heart through the Sacrament of Confession.  I like to call it the Sacrament of Christmas because that is where Scrooges become Santas.   In other words, it is where the miserly hearts like Ebenezer Scrooge are transformed into the merciful and loving hearts of St. Nicholas.  Confession as you know is every Saturday from 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm and after every weekday 9 am Mass.  On December 15th, however, as in Advents past, every Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of New York including Sacred Heart here in Monroe will be offering confessions from 4 pm – 8 pm.   Please put this essential Advent experience at the top of your shopping list…if you do…you will truly know the peace of that Holy Night.

 Please keep your eye on our website and on our bulletin for information about an upcoming Advent Day of Recollection called “Lessons and Carols, ” scheduled for Sunday, December 14th here at Sacred Heart Church. 

 A blessed Advent to all of you.  Be assured of my prayers and know that I count on all of yours as well. 

 Peace,

 Fr. Tom

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