The Mass will be offered at St. Peter Church, Main St Danbury, CT at noon on Sat., Feb. 11th. The priests of the Danbury Deanery (the 11 parishes in Danbury) will concelebrate and administer the Sacrament of the Sick to those who wish for healing-physical, emotional, mental or spiritual-during the Mass. Let family members and friends know of this liturgy to be celebrated for them.
The parish will have a Mass in honor of St Brigid of Ireland. The readings, hymns and prayers will be in English and Irish. There will be a short talk during lunch about the life of St Brigid. All are invited to attend the Mass and reception that follows. Location: Main St. Danbury, CT .
The Advent and Christmas seasons are always special times each year when Christians are anticipating the Coming of our Saviour and then celebrating the arrival of the Infant Jesus. We started earlier than usual and were actually able to get our preparations completed early this time! (Well, most of them anyhow). This gave us more time to enjoy our 17-month-old grandson who is a lot more active and aware (He is walking around everywhere now….).
During my prayer time, I always go over the Mass Readings for the day and the meditations from various sources. The plight and struggles of families to raise their children in the Faith has been a growing concern of mine for the past several years. When the Feast of the Holy Family came on December 30th, the readings of Sirach 3: 2-6 and 12-14 and Mt 2: 13-15 and 14-23 were powerful. In Sirach, he talked about how God sets the father and mother over their children and, in Matthew’s Gospel an angel of the Lord tells St Joseph to take the family and flee to Egypt to protect them.
A Meditation in the December 2022 issue of Word Among Us for Dec. 30th was very good and follows here for you to ponder the title of this piece.
DAILY MEDITATION: SIRACH 3:2-6, 12-14
Take care of your father when he is old. (Sirach 3:12
Doesn’t today’s first reading paint a beautiful picture of family life? Parents eagerly welcome their newborn baby into their hearts and home. They take care of that child’s every need until she is able to live on her own. The child, in turn, honors and respects her parents, and when they grow old and become unable to care for themselves, she steps in and cares for them.
Of course, we know that it doesn’t always work out that way, often through no fault of our own. But we can still form the circle of love that God desires every time we follow his call to “take care” of one another (Sirach 3:12).
On this feast of the Holy Family, let’s consider what it means to take care of our loved ones. Of course, it starts with making sure that they are physically safe and healthy. But it goes far beyond that. “Taking care” means being aware of their feelings and paying attention to how our words and actions affect them. It means being patient when they are slow to learn or unable to do things for themselves. It means doing all we can to share our faith and enable them, whenever possible, to practice theirs. It means telling them how much we appreciate them. It means forbearing when they annoy us and forgiving them when they hurt us. And it means interceding for all their needs.
So take care of your children, your parents, your siblings. Take care of them when they are too young or too old to take care of themselves. Take care of them when they are ill or troubled. Take care of them when it’s a delight and when it’s a sacrifice.
This is a high calling, and we may fail at it sometimes. That’s all the more reason to ask Jesus, who experienced family life himself, for the grace to keep forming this circle of love-day by day, week by week, year by year. Let’s also ask Mary and Joseph to pray for us. May our care for one another bind us together in the Lord all the days of our lives!
“Father, thank you for the gift of my family. Help me to care for them as you care for me.”
The Saints and Scholars Foundation, 501(c)(3) was formed in 2021 to support Mater Dei Academy (MDA) in Cork, Ireland. The school was founded by a group of parents in Ireland who were not satisfied with the current state of education in Ireland.
MDA is an independent secondary level school and is a charity under Irish law. It is a NON-TUITION FUNDED SCHOOLthat relies solely on the voluntary donations of benefactors and parents. NO STUDENT IS TURNED AWAY FOR FINANCIAL REASONS.
MDA follows a strict classical curriculum for the first 4 years followed by a 2year cycle (state curriculum) so that the student can obtain the Leaving Certification. This is equivalent to an Associate degree in the US at age 19. The school is the only school in Ireland to have received the coveted International General Certificate of Secondary Education (ICESG) from Cambridge University. This model of education forms students for a Christ-centered life who are able to work in a variety of occupations.
The school started with 12 students in 2020 and has grown to 39 students in 2022. If you care about Ireland and the future of her people’s faith heritage, please consider a donation to the Foundation. https://www.saintsandscholars.us/donate
Each year, Religious Education (RE) at St Peter Church, Danbury, CT invites people to discern if God is calling them to help in the faith formation of our young parishioners. (Spoiler: If you’ve been baptized, you’ve been called to share your faith.) Perhaps you’re unsure about what to expect or what to do. That’s normal. Maybe you’re worried you won’t know enough about your faith to share it. We can help you.
Let us allay your fears. We don’t expect you to be The Perfect Catechist. That’s not even a thing. We’re looking for parents, grandparents, singles, students, first-time catechists, long-time catechists and former catechists. We’re looking for people willing to learn and prepare, who are committed to guiding our students and who trust that God will provide what they need to be an effective leader.
We know you have doubts and questions, so consider these 8 reasons people are reluctant to step up into this role.
I wouldn’t know what to teach. We provide a week-by-week curriculum outline and a full set of resources to help you. Our texts have complete teacher resources, lesson plans and a robust web site full of suggestions. Our experienced catechists share ideas and lesson plans as well.
I don’t know my faith well enough. At one point, we were all on a journey to learn something – how to read, how to tie our shoes, how to do fractions – and we did it. Your faith is the same; when you practice it more actively, you learn more about it. In fact, this is the thing we hear most often from catechists – their faith grows exponentially when they teach RE.
I don’t have the time. If you attend the 9 a.m. or noon Mass, you’re already here on Sunday mornings. Planning takes only a couple of hours during the week. Chances are you’re already online in the evening; you can surf for lesson ideas then. There are enrichment workshops throughout the year that take place right in the Diocese.
I enjoy having a quiet hour for coffee on Sunday while my kids are in class. We get that. At baptism, you were called to be a witness to Christ’s love in the world. Serving as a catechist allows you to live out this call. Coffee and quiet are beautiful things, but the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the classroom is pretty energizing, too.
I’m afraid to teach by myself. You don’t have to. We place two catechists in every classroom. You can choose how best to teach. Some catechists like to team-teach. We have substitute catechists if you’re on travel.
What if someone asks me a question I can’t answer? You don’t have to know all the answers all the time. We have the people and the resources to help you find the answer so you can bring it back to class the next week.
I’m not “cool” enough to relate to students. Our students have enough “cool” friends. What they need on Sunday morning is a committed Catholic who will learn their name, listen when they speak, involve them in a meaningful lesson, lead them in prayer and guide them on a good path. You probably have life experiences that are more applicable than you realize.
I don’t think I can manage a room of 15 kids. Very few of our catechists are professional teachers, so everyone has concerns about classroom management. We will help you set expectations for your classroom and ensure that students and parents understand what is required for participation in our program.
Open yourself up to a new relationship with God; we’ll help you get there.
Questions? We’d love to talk with you. Call or email: 203-743-1048 or email@example.com.
Starting with my usual prayer time this morning, I saw in the Daily Mass Readings that today (September 15th) was the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Not surprisingly, it follows yesterday’s Exaltation of the Holy Cross or Roodmas as it was called in middle English centuries ago.
I went through the First Reading of Paul’s letter to Timothy in Ephesus (1Tm3: 14-16) which talked about the Church being the pillar and foundation of truth and the Responsorial Psalm after it. Then, I was surprised to see a Sequence in the text with a powerful and moving prayer of lamentation for Mary’s suffering and grief at the foot of the cross. This brought me quickly into the agony she was experiencing at the time. This was followed by the Alleluia which, even though it was only four lines long, was equally piercing. I include these two pieces first now.
At the cross her station keeping, Stood the mournful Mother weeping, Close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, All his bitter anguish bearing, Now at length the sword had passed.
Oh, how sad and sore distressed Was that Mother highly blessed Of the sole begotten One!
Christ above in torment hangs, She beneath beholds the pangs Of her dying, glorious Son.
Is there one who would not weep, ‘Whelmed in miseries so deep, Christ’s dear Mother to behold?
Can the human heart refrain From partaking in her pain, In that mother’s pain untold?
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, She beheld her tender Child, All with bloody scourges rent.
For the sins of his own nation Saw him hang in desolation Till his spirit forth he sent.
O sweet Mother! font of love, Touch my spirit from above, Make my heart with yours accord.
Make me feel as you have felt; Make my soul to glow and melt With the love of Christ, my Lord.
Holy Mother, pierce me through, In my heart each wound renew Of my Savior crucified.
Let me share with you his pain, Who for all our sins was slain, Who for me in torments died.
Let me mingle tears with you, Mourning him who mourned for me, All the days that I may live.
By the cross with you to stay, There with you to weep and pray, Is all I ask of you to give.
Virgin of all virgins blest! Listen to my fond request: Let me share your grief divine.
Let me to my latest breath, In my body bear the death Of that dying Son of yours.
Wounded with his every wound, Steep my soul till it has swooned In his very Blood away.
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh, Lest in flames I burn and die, In his awful judgment day.
Christ, when you shall call me hence, Be your Mother my defense, Be your cross my victory.
While my body here decays, May my soul your goodness praise, Safe in heaven eternally. Amen.(Alleluia).
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary; without dying you won the Martyr’s crown beneath the Cross of the Lord. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Gospel reading was from Jn 19: 25-27 where Jesus gives His mother to the Apostle John’s care. I always look for the connections in the daily Mass readings and realized as I wrote this piece, that the Church which is our pillar and foundation of truth gives us powerful readings as these for the daily Mass helping us to realize and feel what our Blessed Mother experienced and endured for us.
The insightful Daily Meditation in Word Among Us for this day is included below.
DAILY MEDITATION: JOHN 19:25-27
Behold, your mother. (John 19:27)
If you enter St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican through the doors on the right, you won’t go far before you pass by one of the most beautiful, moving sculptures in Western art: Michelangelo’s Pietà. The sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary looking down at the dead body of her son as he is draped over her lap. Her expression is a mixture of sorrow and contemplation, of mourning and acceptance. She isn’t weeping; she is gazing intently, as if she were waiting for something to happen.
This combination of sadness and anticipation is a perfect way to understand today’s memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. By the time we come to this scene in the Gospels, Mary has become intimately familiar with suffering and loss. For a time, she wondered whether Joseph might leave her to raise her child on her own. Then she had to give birth in a cave. Then she and her new family became refugees in the land of Egypt. She also endured a three-day search for her missing son, became a widow at a young age, and had to learn to live alone after Jesus began his public ministry.
So Mary was no stranger to sorrow when she received the lifeless body of her son on Good Friday, and Michelangelo’s sculpture captures this familiarity beautifully. For Mary had learned the secret to sorrow and grief—that it is not permanent. Her near divorce ended with Joseph deeply committed to her and her son. In the cave, she was surrounded by shepherds telling of angelic choirs. When Jesus left to preach and teach, she found a new role in a large family made up of everyone who “does the will of God” (Mark 3:35).
Somehow Mary knew—she believed—that her son’s death on the cross was not the end. So even as she grieved all that he had endured, even as she felt each of his pains as if it were her own, she trusted that God would not leave her and that her grief would eventually turn to joy.
So will yours. And as you wait, you can lean on Mary as your own tender, compassionate Mother.
On our recent trip to visit our daughter in Nevada, I attended Mass at the St Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno, Nevada one Sunday morning in April. I always enjoy visiting other churches to hear Mass and see how they are celebrated. Most churches are in the process of opening up as the pandemic recedes, so I was especially interested in seeing how they were doing this at St. Thomas’s. I noticed that they had pews taped off as usual, but they were taped about 2 feet in which was curious. The cantor came up to the lectern and began giving some directions for the Gloria and then began the opening Easter Hymn “the strife is over“. Tears began to well up in my eyes from a flood of emotions.
I had recently been talking with other friends about the seeming lack of joy in the Easter season following Easter Sunday especially when compared with Christmas season following Christmas Day. One hears a variety of beautiful Christmas hymns before and after Christmas day: O Holy Night, Adeste Fideles, Silent Night and so on. There are many Easter hymns as well but not nearly sung as often. And here I was, over 2000 miles from home hearing the cantor and a congregation singing: “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia…..the strife is over …….” A beautiful hymn exclaiming that Christ’s suffering on the cross is over and now also the suffering from the pandemic on the way out. Bittersweet joy of Easter, the pandemic and the joy of singing for the first time in 10 months. I could barely sing along with all the feelings going on inside.
The priest started the Mass by asking everyone to greet each other which everyone did. He was especially reverent throughout the Mass and everyone participated in kind. This parish was keeping that Easter joy and what a joy it was to be there. We all need to remember that Christmas happened so that Easter could happen! The Resurrection is Jesus’ triumph over death and makes possible the joy of eternal life with Him. That is certainly a reason to keep that joyous feeling before us! I am still listening to those beautiful Easter hymns. And the warmth and love of that parish surely is boosting my soul all the way to Pentecost!
By the way, this parish brought Communion down to the people in the pews! That is why they left space in the taped off pews. I learn something new every day.
It is always a sobering time when Lent arrives each year. A time of preparation, denial and discipline as we are getting ready to recall Jesus’ time of great trial and sacrifice. A time of mixed emotions as well since the resurrection on Easter Sunday marks His triumph over evil and death as well as our salvation. The greatest day on our Christian calendar!
Speaking of mixed emotions, when I watched Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, I was surprised at my emotional reaction to Peter’s realization that he had just denied Christ three times. I felt so bad for Peter! He was on his knees sobbing before the Blessed Mother before he ran off at the horror of what he himself had done. That caused a lot of soul searching for myself! But, then, isn’t that what Lent is all about?
Below is an article that appeared in Word Among Us ( a favorite publication of mine) last week for your contemplation. I wish you all the blessings of Easter!
Behold the Man
A new look at Jesus’ crucifixion.
Imagine that you have traveled back to the year AD 63 and are sitting with the apostle John, who is telling you what it was like to be on Calvary as Jesus gave his life for us on the cross.
“When Jesus was arrested after our Passover meal, most of us ran away. It was probably the darkest moment of my life. Jesus had just shown us at the meal how much he was willing to give for us, and I couldn’t stay with him in his moment of need. He had sacrificed three years teaching us, encouraging us, loving us, and healing us—and I couldn’t risk sacrificing anything for him.
“When I realized what I had done, I knew I couldn’t stay in hiding. I asked God to forgive me for running away, and I began searching high and low for Jesus. When I finally caught up with him, he was being led to Calvary.
Father, Forgive Them
“I pushed through the crowd just in time to see the soldiers driving the spikes into Jesus’ hands. And amidst the noise of the crowds, the pounding of the hammers, and Jesus’ own cries of pain, I heard him say, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34). When I first heard this, I wondered whom he was praying for. Was it the Jewish rulers who had condemned him? Was it Pontius Pilate and the Roman soldiers who had flogged him, beaten him, and crucified him? Or maybe it was us, who had been with him so long and yet abandoned him at the very end?
“But over the years as I’ve prayed and talked about this with the other apostles, I realized that Jesus was doing exactly what he had taught us to do. For as long as we were with him, he kept telling us that we had to forgive seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22). Now here he was, being just as free with his mercy as he always told us to be.
Free to Forgive
“As we reflect on this beautiful act of Jesus on Good Friday, we see just how far God’s forgiveness reached. Peter knew that he was forgiven for having denied Jesus. Thomas knew he was forgiven for his lack of faith. We were all forgiven for having run away. Now we know that no one is beyond God’s mercy. Jesus proved it when he forgave the soldiers who mocked him, the chief priests who condemned him, and even Judas, who betrayed him.
“Hearing Jesus speak words of forgiveness even as nails were being driven into him, even as he was being hung on the cross, even as he had to gasp for every breath, we all need to ask whether we are willing to forgive just as fully. And today, I’d like to ask you: Is there any way you need to follow Jesus’ example and forgive? Are there people whose forgiveness you need to seek? Don’t hold back. Remember Jesus and all he gave up for you. Then ask his Spirit to help you be just as generous.
Jesus, Remember Me
“A little bit later, something very moving happened to one of the thieves who was crucified next to Jesus. It seemed as if Jesus’ love and humility—and the way in which he embraced such an unjust death—changed this man. He defended Jesus when the other thief started insulting him. Then he turned and said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And again, in the midst of his agony, Jesus reached out in love and mercy. ‘Today,’ he told the man, ‘you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:42-43).
“It’s amazing that Jesus would welcome this sinner into his kingdom with just as much assurance as he welcomed Peter, James, and the rest of the apostles—men who had given up so much to follow him. But this thief has become a reminder to me that anyone who turns to Jesus will be received into heaven.
“Again, the depth of his mercy and love is overwhelming. And again, consider: Is there someone whom you have given up on? Is there someone whom you think will never be welcomed into heaven? Don’t judge! Don’t condemn! Don’t forget that you are just as unworthy as he was. Don’t forget that you needed salvation through the cross just as much as this thief did. Jesus didn’t condemn this man. He didn’t condemn his disciples, even though they had deserted him. He won’t turn anyone away, and he asks us to be just as open and merciful—even to our enemies.
Why Have You Forsaken Me?
“Jesus’ words just before he died were probably confusing to the apostles: ‘My God, my God,’ he cried out, ‘why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15:34). It’s hard to believe that Jesus, who was always close to the Father, could be abandoned by his Father at his moment of greatest suffering and need. Would God really turn away from him just as his Son was performing the greatest act of obedience the world would ever know?
“However, Jesus felt separated from his Father because he was carrying our sins. He was speaking both from the crushing pain of his crucifixion and from the relentless spiritual attacks he was enduring. This was Satan’s pivotal moment. If there was any chance of getting Jesus to deny his Father and turn away from his commitment to us, it was now. The spiritual assault he was enduring was so violent that it must have felt as if he were separated from his Father. At the same time, he must have known in his heart that God would never abandon him. This cry that issued from his bloodied lips and his parched mouth was both an acknowledgment of the battle he was fighting and an affirmation that even if it felt as if God had left him, he would not abandon God.”
Just as Jesus felt forsaken and abandoned by God on the cross, the same can happen to us. St. John must have felt that way at times, especially when he and Peter and James were arrested, or when they were beaten or mocked for telling people about Jesus. At these times they held onto trust in God and confidence that Jesus was with them, even if it felt as if he’d abandoned them. Are there times when you feel alone and forsaken? Are you wondering whether God has left you in a situation of confusion, struggle, or pain? He hasn’t. Remember the psalm: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18). He is always with you!
Behold the Man
So many other things happened that day. Jesus said and did so much, even as he hung in agony and his life’s blood slowly left his body. There’s so much more you can receive and experience as you ponder Jesus’ death. As you read the passion stories, take Pilate’s advice and “behold the man” (John 19:5). Behold the man, wounded and bruised, crowned with thorns. Behold the man, who was despised and rejected. Behold the man of sorrow, acquainted with grief.
But behold also the man who loved you so much that he gave up everything for you. Behold the man who endured the nails, the whip, the thorns, and the cross for you. Behold the man who endured the weight of sin, the onslaught of the devil, and the loneliness of desertion for you. Behold him and bow down in worship and love. Behold him and give him your life. Behold him and know that he has won for you a place in heaven.
When Peter, James, and the rest saw Jesus on Easter Sunday, they beheld Jesus again—this time as a glorified man—and their hearts were filled with joy. This Lent, behold the glorified Jesus. Fix your heart on him as he is seated in heaven, pouring out grace upon grace into your heart. Behold him every time you celebrate Mass and recall the love he poured out at the Last Supper. Behold him in your family and neighbors and love and serve them just as he has loved and served you. Finally, behold him in the poor and suffering and imitate him by washing their feet. May God bless you.
Isaiah is consistently beautiful in his writings whether it be in the Advent/Christmas seasons, or Lent/Easter times. I always love them. The Mass reading this past Tuesday, Is 55:10-11, captures a beautiful reality.
My daily prayer life involves Lectio Divina which is a practice of reading the daily scripture readings and then pondering and being open to listening for what God wants to impart to you. A passage like this is ideal. The meditation for this day (Feb 23) from Word Among Us gives an excellent description of Lectio Divina and commentary on Isaiah’s passage.
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth
making it fertile and fruitful,…
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,..
DAILY MEDITATION: ISAIAH 55:10-11
My word . . . shall not return to me void. (Isaiah 55:11)
Have you ever been inside a greenhouse? Its transparent walls trap heat and humidity, creating a tropical atmosphere—even in the wintertime. The walls also keep out hungry herbivores. It’s no wonder a greenhouse is such a fertile environment!
This may be a good metaphor for the practice of lectio divina, an ancient, prayerful way of reading Scripture. In today’s first reading, we hear about the life-giving power of God’s word. It’s like rain that waters the earth and causes crops to grow and bear fruit. You could say that lectio divina is an especially fertile environment for growth.
In order to experience God’s written word through lectio divina, you need to “wall yourself off” from distractions for a time. This creates space for the four traditional stages of this practice: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.
Reading. Just as fertile soil helps plants grow, the words of Scripture are a rich medium in which we can experience God’s grace. So unhurried reading of a short passage is the first step of lectio divina. This stage usually ends as you pause at a phrase—even a word—that catches your attention.
Meditation. Remember the greenhouse’s clear walls that let in so much light? Similarly, you can invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate the truths in that phrase or word as you ponder it and turn it over in your mind.
Prayer. Next, bring your reflections before the Lord in the form of a prayerful conversation. Maybe you could thank him for a truth he has revealed. Or ask him whatever questions come into your heart. Then give him room to respond. At this point, the Lord may already be irrigating your soul with peace or joy.
Contemplation. Now be still and open. Allow anything God has said or done to soak in. Let his word take root within you—even if you don’t immediately “feel” anything happening.
And that’s it. But don’t be fooled. Even though it’s structured and simple, lectio divina contains living surprises, like any good greenhouse. You never know at which stage you may encounter the Lord walking through the garden.