Pastor’s Message – April 12th, 2015
This Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, is Divine Mercy Sunday, the highpoint of the Easter Octave celebrations. For many years, before the Feast of Divine Mercy was established, parish celebrations took place outside of Mass. Many parishes had devotions around 3 pm in the afternoon, which included the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and perhaps adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Unfortunately, too many celebrations focus on having afternoon devotions, which only devotees attend. Have parishes forgotten the real purpose of this Feast of Mercy is for poor sinners? How many sinners, Easter-only or fallen-away Catholics, are going to attend a long prayer service in the afternoon as well as attend a Mass to receive Communion? So what should parishes be doing?
Are we focusing all of our energy on what we call “parties for devotees” at 3pm in the afternoon, or are they focusing on saving poor sinners? It’s time to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday in such a way that would bring many Easter-only, lukewarm and fallen-away Catholics back to the practice of their faith. Priests have been turned away from these devotional parties because all they see are devotees, not poor sinners. Devotees usually ask for a number of things on the Feast of Mercy that Jesus never asked for, including Confessions on that day, the recitation of the Chaplet, sometime Masses at 3 pm, and, sometimes, adoration. Many of these complaints are caused by misdirected devotees asking for things that Jesus never asked us to do on the Feast of Mercy. Isn’t it better for us to focus on the things that would help Jesus save poor sinners instead? Think about it! Priests had already heard the Confessions of devotees just before Easter and now they are demanding for them to hear their Confessions again. Jesus didn’t tell us to have devotions at 3pm on the Feast of Mercy. He gave us the Hour of Mercy, the Chaplet, and the Novena, but that is not what Jesus asked us to do for His Feast. We should pray the Hour of Mercy daily, to say the Chaplet often; and Jesus asked for the Novena of Chaplets, starting on Good Friday, but He never asked for these on the feast itself. Let’s focus on saving poor sinners before it is too late! Our Readings of the Mass and our homilies should focus on the true meaning of the feast. Take a look and see how Jesus is always trying to draw us to Himself.
That is the essence of His mercy, His willingness to forgive us over and over. Can we go and do likewise? It was a great pleasure to attend the recent dedication of our new parish Knights of Columbus Hall by Bishop Robert Mulvee, Bishop-emeritus of Providence, when he came to confirm our 44 teens on the Friday night before Palm Sunday (Bishop Barbarito was still recovering from his recent brain surgery, so Bishop Mulvee filled in for him at both events). The ranking officers of our Florida State Council of the K of C were in attendance and marveled at the work done by our own Knights, as they transformed a storage area in the old Mercy convent into a gathering/meeting/social place for our Catholic men – the results of many hours of work over the past year by the Knights themselves. Congratulations to the Knights’ leadership and membership, including our Grand Knight Todd Gallo, former Grand Knight Tom Stewart, Knight Jay Flood — who spearheaded the efforts of other hard-working Knights (a bit too numerous for me to mention in this space) in providing this setting for the Knights and the Columbiettes to conduct their gatherings. May they enjoy the fruits of their labor for many years to come! As Council and State Chaplain, I thank you sincerely!
Our church was filled to overflowing, and the parish center took on the numerous extra crowds who came for our Easter Sunday services. We estimate that over 5,000 people attended those services alone. The sacred Liturgies of Holy Week–made so very uplifting, thanks to the effort of our parish choir and soloists, under the capable leadership of our organist, Matthew Emkey — were the culmination of a lot of effort on the part of numerous volunteers. Additionally, our Life Teen musicians, under the leadership of Jonathan Washam, offered their talents to sing the overflow Masses.
I want to give special thanks to Deacon Keith “Rusty” Skinner, and his RCIA team, who helped lead 24 men and women to full participation now in the sacramental life of the Catholic church. His wife, Wanda, and their daughters also helped (as always) in getting the church prepared for Sunday, with the arrangement of the flowers in the sanctuary (made possible by your generous donations!). Thank you all!
Your generosity in the recent special collection for our mission in Guatemala was absolutely outstanding! Your answer to Steve Dudenhoefer’s appeal will help feed the children down there for the entire year. We’ve surpassed the $50 thousand mark, and await a few more promised donations. Steve has asked me to thank you for your gift, and has assured me that the students will offer prayers daily for your kindness. Gracias! Thank you!
April 5th, 2015
Understandably, our church is very crowded both last Sunday and this Sunday. Some come for their semi-annual visit; others come to model their Easter finery; still, others come to worship their Lord and God in the manner they are accustomed to each week. While it’s hard to understand what inspires all different kinds of people to make their way to church at this time of year, we know that somewhere, behind it all, is the call of Our Lord for all people to “come to Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” Upon all these Our Lord desires to pour out His divine mercy. Next week, we will focus more on the great feast of the Eastert season, Divine Mercy Sunday. Today, let’s reflect on this great feast that we know as Easter Sunday.
I love the smell of Easter – especially the smell of Easter flowers of all varieties and the foods that were blessed in our church on Holy Saturday afternoon –signifying “new life.” It is truly my favorite holiday, especially after meditating upon the preceding Holy Week’s observance of the passion and death of our Lord and Savior. The joy of holy anticipation, though not exactly like a little child’s at Christmas, still gives a superb feeling to those who have faithfully marked the forty days of Lent. If we have fasted and prayed and mortified ourselves during Lent, we feel it all the more. Jesus is risen! He has conquered death and sin! Alleluia!
Since Ash Wednesday, a type of “turning” has marked our Lenten days in various ways – all with God leading and guiding. But on Easter we find that God does the best turning of all, the turning that makes our entire spiritual turning to God possible. For in raising Jesus from the dead, God most marvelously turns things upside-down and inside-out.
-In raising Jesus from the dead, God turns the way things are into the way He intended them to be: death loses its grip on human lives; the power of sin is destroyed; those in helpless situations can experience the deliverance of God.
-In raising Jesus from the dead, God confirms what Jesus Himself preached: with God, all things are possible! Jesus, rejected and despised and executed as a criminal, becomes the risen, ever-living Lord of glory.
-In raising Jesus from the dead, God has proven what Jesus Himself declared: “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus, the crucified one, has become the source of risen life for all who believe in Him.
-In raising Jesus from the dead, God proves that good is more powerful than evil; that death cannot snuff out life forever; and that love is stronger than hatred.
-In raising Jesus from the dead, God promises what Jesus Himself foretold: “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I shall raise them up on the last day.” With Easter, God gives us a preview of this last day. That “last day” will be God’s final act of turning this world inside-out and upside-down, for on the day of the Lord, the last shall be first, the downcast will be lifted up, and the powerless will know the saving power of God.
For believing Christians, Easter is not just a day, but a season. Aren’t you glad that we have the Easter Season’s great fifty days to enjoy it? Take the time to reflect on what good God has done for us. He has given us hope when the world often seems hopeless. So, let us rejoice and be glad, for the Lord, the Conqueror of sin and death, invites us to turn away from sin and to turn to Jesus.
I thank you for your generous gift to the parish on this holy day, and extend a most blessed and happy Easter to you and your family!
Pastor’s Message – March 29th, 2015
Pastor’s Message – March 22nd, 2015
This weekend, we welcome back to our parish, long-time friend and lay-missionary in Guatemala, Steve Dudenhoefer. He will not only regale us with some stories of the successes of the students we are helping to feed and educate, but will make his annual appeal for us to continue that help. As part of his presentation, he will note your noble efforts of past support of the Father Tom Moran Educational Center in the dense jungle of northeastern Guatemala. We will take up our collection to help him nextweekend, using special envelopes set aside for that purpose. Additionally, if you would like to become a sponsor/partner of the Food for Students program, he will be available at the east door of our church after all Masses this weekend to help you set up that program. I thank you, too, for your continued support in order to feed and educate these students, the future of that lovely, but historically oppressed country. I am planning to return there again this summer with fellow Knights of Columbus and their sons to continue to build and repair many classrooms and other related school facilities and equipment.
This coming Friday (March 27), we are honored to have Bishop Gerald Barbarito bestow theSacrament of Confirmation on 32 high school students at the 7 p.m. Mass. It’s so good to have our bishop with us, once again, as he resumes his duties after a serious brain operation in January. Our bishop is truly grateful to Almighty God for a positive outcome of that operation, and has already expressed his thanks to us for the many prayers and good wishes offered to Almighty God for the success of that surgery. May God grant him many more years of good health for his life of service!
Next weekend, we will have the honor of hosting the quarterly meeting of the Executive Board of theFlorida Council of the Knights of Columbus here, in Delray Beach. The Board member s and their wives will participate in Mass in our church on Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. Under the leadership of the current State Deputy, Paul Koppie, the Order has grown to over 52,000 Catholic gentlemen in our state, and now numbers over 1.8 million members worldwide. If you know of any Catholic man over 18, who is in good standing in our Faith, invite him to join this brotherhood of menwho promote the good works and Faith of the Catholic Church. It’s the best Ministry or Catholic men’s fellowship that I know of in any parish!
Congratulations to our own parish Knights of Columbus Council, who, under the leadership of our Grand Knight, Todd Gallo, have conducted a string of successful fish fries during this Lenten season. Nobly assisted by the ladies’ Columbiettes organization, and several dedicated students from our parish school each Friday, the Knights have served an average of about 250 meals each Friday. In the meantime, they are nearing completion of the renovation of rooms in our old convent for a new meeting hall for their organization and the Columbiettes. What a blessing they are to our parish! May they continue to prosper in their own right and in service to God, our parish and our country!
This coming Wednesday, March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord by the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we will have our Lenten Penance Service at 7:00 p.m. A good number of priests will join us to hear the confessions of those people who are preparing to worthily celebrate the great Easter feasts. Plan to bring your family to receive the forgiveness of sin and bounteous mercy God wishes to extend to His faithful. You will probably avoid long lines on the other given days.
Next Sunday, traditionally referred to as Palm Sunday, we will begin the