From Father's Desk

From Father's Desk

From Fathers Desk web

My Dear Spiritual Family,

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, when we remember all of the sacrifices made for our freedom. We remember, and so we cherish the great gift of this nation, now entrusted to our generation, for us to keep alive and carry forward. By remembering the sacrifices made on our behalf, we keep that memory alive.

This weekend as we spend time appreciating the great gift of the Living Bread that Jesus shares with us, we are also focused on memory, on remembrance. Jesus teaches, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51). That beautiful promise is our focus leading up to Corpus Christi.

Dear Parish Family,

This weekend we celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord, body, and soul, into heaven. After forty days of special instruction with the raised and glorified Jesus, it is time for him to return to the Father.

His parting words are now called the great commissioning, when Jesus entrusts the continued mission to his followers: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20) These are the last words in Matthew’s Gospel, what a climactic conclusion!

Dear Parish Family,

Happy Mother’s Day Everyone! To all our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, foster-mothers, and mother figures, we wish you a happy and blessed day. May God bless you with his graces as he blessed the Mother of the Savior. As we honor Mother Mary by crowning her at all the Masses this weekend, permit me to share an article with you that explains more about Mary as Ark of the New Covenant. She is truly the one who makes present in the world our God in the flesh, so that we might receive him and be transformed.

Last week we began walking towards Corpus Christi (June 11th) by kicking off a message series called Living Bread. Jesus tells us, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51). That living bread and our life in Christ will be the focus of our eucharistic message series.

Dear Friends,

This is my first letter to you since returning from the Holy Land. I am so grateful for all your prayers and support. So many of you have asked about our pilgrimage and mentioned how you were remembering us in prayer. Thank you! You can be sure we remembered you in our prayers as well. I look forward to sharing bits of wisdom and insight from the trip over the next weeks and months.

Thank you also to everyone who shared in the beautiful send off for Deacon Ron and Eileen Meyers. It was a wonderful celebration of our time together, worshiping God and loving our neighbor, building up the Body of Christ right here in Maple Shade. While we cannot replace them, we do need to work towards filling the space they leave vacant with other members, who share a desire to follow the Lord and invite others.

Last week Marianne wrote about the very beginning of the path (Service) to discipleship here at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. If you are not familiar with the path to discipleship here it is pretty simple. To get started you just need to remember STEPS. Serve, Tithe, Engage, Practice, Share (STEPS).

The first reading this week reminds us of the importance of the third step: Engage. St. Peter exhorts the crowd “they were cut to the heart, and they asked…‘What are we to do, my brothers?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized.’” We too are offered a challenge. We are presented with the Gospel with discipleship with Jesus Christ and offered the very life of God in the Eucharist. Are we cut to the heart like the people in the reading from Acts today? Are we aware of our shortcomings in contrast to the gifts God desires to give us?

Dear Parish Family,

As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “Now, there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

What does this mean to our parish community?  Our parish members have a variety of talents that have been bestowed upon them by God.  There are many ways in which these talents can be offered to help in Building up the Body of Christ here in Maple Shade.  Some have the talents of hospitality, while others are best suited to behind the scenes organizing.  Some have the talent of reading the Word while others are better suited to operational standards.  No matter what talents we have each been given by God,  how do we use them?  Do we offer them back to God and His people?

Dear Parish Family,

By the time you read this we will be safely in the Holy Land, God willing. Please pray for our parish pilgrimage. We will be praying for you! Despite the distance between us, we can be joined together spiritually through the Sacraments and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Truly, we are one Body in Christ, striving to follow and to grow and to invite others to share in the treasure shared with us.

Today the Gospel recounts the disciples huddled together in the Upper Room, the Cenacle. I am already marveling that we will be able to visit what many experts think may have been the very room where Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Last Supper, and where Jesus handed on to them, the great twin gifts of the priesthood and Eucharist.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Two weeks ago, we were standing in front of an occupied tomb. The body of Lazarus lay inside. A stone covered the entrance. Martha, Mary, and many of their friends were outside weeping. Jesus prayed to the Father. And Lazarus came stumbling out, still bound at his hands and feet, his face covered with a cloth.

Today, we find ourselves again at a tomb. Mary Magdala is the first to arrive; it is still dark. She probably could not sleep. She has returned early in the morning, drawn to the last known location of the Savior. Saint Augustine offers a marvelous wisdom: “My love is my weight” (amor meus pondus meum - sounds better in Latin). Like gravity, her love draws her to the one who has become the center of her existence. Drawn to Him, she finds the stone rolled away. Instead of finding him, his corpse laying there so the spices for burial can be applied, she finds an empty tomb. Mary runs to share the news. Placing ourselves in her shoes, we might ask: what draws our hearts most deeply? And, to whom would we like to run to share the good news?

Dear Spiritual Family,

Some complain that people do not read anymore. Actually, I hear it all the time. Perhaps because we devote so much of our time and effort towards communication. In some ways, that is our main focus: to share the good news. Some of our staff will express frustration: “They don’t read the emails. We are trying to communicate but they are not reading what we put out.” This challenge is not centered on one group. It does make me wonder sometimes if these weekly letters are worth it! Is anybody reading this?

My brother Sean admits: “Hey, I read the headlines!” If it is on page two, he will never find it. He is moving too fast to take a closer look at the whole story.  This challenge permeates much of life and culture. From various groups of volunteers to our parish families, people just do not seem to take the time to really read these days. Should we blame them?