December 9, 2018

December 4, 2018

From Father Jordan, O.P.

 

My Dear Ones,

 

May the grace of Our Lord remain always with us!

 

Please join me in thanking Karin Schrott and the members of her awesome committee for all of their hard work, dedication, and self-sacrifice that made the Saint Sebastian Inaugural Christmas Bazaar such a great success! Last Saturday was a truly great day in the life of our Parish: there was a great spirit of friendship and joy; and a spirit of great charity! Praise God! I cannot thank Karin enough; nor am I able to adequately express my deep and genuine appreciation for all the committee did to bring this day to reality! Thank you to all of you who volunteered time to help at one of the stations, or worked in the kitchen, or to greet people as they arrived. And, thank you to all of you who came and shopped and spent your treasure to help keep people warm! I know that God shines His mercy and love upon us for all you did to cloth the naked, and in this case, to keep the poor warm! Thank you, Lord, for a truly great day.

 

Each day a pastor is greeted with many different surprises: some happy, some not so happy. On Monday of this week I had one of those not so happy surprises. Ms. Marie and I were having one of our usual Monday meeting. I knew something was not right, and I asked Marie if she was all right. Marie quietly stated that she wants to retire. I am very sad to share this news with you. Both Ms. Marie and I sat in silence for a moment; and we each had tears in our eyes. Ms. Marie’s last day will be on Monday, December 17. First, I thank Ms. Marie for 19 years of service to our community: 12 as the Coordinator of Religious Education and 7 as a catechist in the Religious Education Program. Secondly, I am most grateful for the selfless dedication Ms. Marie has shown to our community. She is punctilious in every detail of her job, and her job was not a job but a ministry. You can mention a name to Marie and she will give you the entire family history. You can ask Marie for a recommendation for someone to do something, and she is able to, as they say, “hit the nail on the head.” Personally, I am most grateful to Marie! When I moved here in June, Marie organized students to help me move into the Rectory. As I have tried to transition and settle into a very different world, it has been Marie who helped me learn about and understand every bit of liturgical history attached to our community. And, Marie has been most open and appreciative of new ideas and fresh eyes: it is an understatement to say that I will miss Ms. Marie! But, the most important aspect of this is Ms. Marie’s happiness and the realization of her desire, “I want to be retired – full-time!” We will honor Ms. Marie with a very special reception on Sunday, January 6, The Feast of the Epiphany, following the 9 am Mass. Religious Education Classes on that Sunday will be joining in the celebration of Ms. Marie.

 

Today, the Second Sunday of Advent is the first of two Sundays in which our Advent Liturgy focuses upon John the Baptist: the prophet who wore camel hair and ate wild honey; the prophet thought to be out of his mind. It is not easy or fun to be a prophet! 99 times out of 100 a prophet bears a message no one wants to hear!! However, it is only when we listen to the prophets that mountains and hills are made low, rough ways smooth and winding ways made straight. It is only by listening to the prophet’s warning do we find peace! May all of our hearts be open to the prophets God sends into our midst today.

 

Until we meet at the altar… O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

 

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, O.P.

 

December 2, 2018

November 27, 2018

From Father Jordan, O.P.

 My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the grace of Our Lord remain always with us!

On this first day of the new Liturgical year, I greet you with several greetings: Happy New Year!; Blessed Advent; and, Come, Sweet Season of the Wonder!

Beginning last Friday, perhaps even before Thanksgiving Day, the great rush towards Christmas has begun! But inside the walls of this Church and every Church—and I pray, within the walls of our hearts— there is the quiet expectation that waits for Christ to come again in glory; to visit each of our lives with His blessed invitation, “Come, you whom my Father has blest, and receive the reward prepared for you since the foundation of the world”; and, to celebrate again the wonder and marvelous exchange that is ours in the Incarnation—Christmas Day.

Each of the three greetings I mention above are    important. However, it is the last greeting—Come, Sweet Season of the Wonder!—about which I particularly want to reflect with you.

I first heard these words in a simple piece of music many years ago. The entire text sings:

Come, Sweet Season of the Wonder! Come, to      inflame our hearts again! O, Holy Vision, go before us! To earth’s communion, God’s Amen!

Growing up near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Advent was a time of wonder! Whether Catholic or Protestant, the lighting of the Advent Wreath was something that drew everyone together. In my little town of Emmaus, we gathered at the “Triangle” which was the center of town, and sang Advent Hymns as the Advent Wreath in the center of the square was lit. There was also the lighting of the  Advent Wreath on the “Hill to Hill Bridge” and the white lights in the windows—glowing lights to guide the Christ Child to our homes—both of which pierced the dark winter’s night.  Advent STILL is a time of wonder!

The lights of Advent are only a dim reflection of THEE Light: Jesus Christ. the Book of Revelation tells us, “E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come, and night shall be no more; They need no light, nor lamp, nor sun, for Christ will be there all!”

What does this Light do? The Light of Christ inflames our hearts so that we may see anew. How do you and I need to see anew? I offer you the following:

  1. This Advent let your heart be inflamed anew as you go to Confession. During Advent, I will hear Confessions for twenty minutes before every Mass: this will result in Confessions being available to you seven days a week! 🙂 Please, take  advantage of this particular Grace.
  2. This Advent experience the wonder of this Season by promising yourself and your family that the crazy rush of Madison Avenue is NOT going to take over: pray together; have a family Advent Wreath and light it each evening at dinner; and come to Sunday Mass as a family.
  3. This Advent find the wonder of love Incarnate by visiting someone you haven’t seen, or try to heal a broken relationship.
  4. This Advent discover the greatest Wonder is Jesus Christ, your relationship with Him, made incarnate in your family and your fellow
    parishioners!

I wish you the most blessed Advent and the greatest Wonder of this Season of Grace: Jesus, the Light of the World!

Please know that you are with me every day at the altar, and please pray for me!

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you!

 In the Lord,

 

November 25, 2018

November 27, 2018

From Father Jordan, O.P.

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the grace of Our Lord remain always with us!

Today we celebrate the beautiful Solemnity of Christ the King. Today is one of my favorite feasts and it is so for many reasons. I love the music of this day; today is a feast that gives way to solemn ritual; and most of all, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King proclaims to the world the divine reversal for those who follow Christ. Our King reigns from the wood of Cross! Pope Benedict XVI writes, “……God yielded to Israel’s obstinacy and so devised a new kind of kingship for them. The King is Jesus; in him God entered humanity and espoused it to himself. This is the usual form of the divine activity in relation to mankind. God does not have a fixed plan that he must carry out; on the contrary, he has many different ways of finding man and even of turning his wrong ways into right way…The feast of Christ the King is therefore not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those who discover that they are in the hands of the One who writes straight on crooked lines.” Writing straight on crooked lines…… I have always loved this image. How much are our hearts and our lives the crooked lines on which the Lord writes a straight new word; a straight new direction; a straight new reason for hope?!?

Who would think that a straight line and freedom could come from the bent and crooked wood of the Cross? Yet, it does. Christ chose the Cross in total freedom and from its crooked wood we are given eternal life, freedom from our sins, and the constant reminder that whatever challenge or difficulty we face in life, the Cross of Jesus shines as a brilliant light in the darkness of our confusion, giving us hope, the courage that is only fear filled by prayer, and the faith that God is leading us to Himself.

Next Sunday we welcome the Season of Advent and we begin a new Liturgical Year. Today’s Solemnity of Christ the King begins a trajectory that is completed in the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism: Christ came that we might have life and to have  it to the full! Enjoy every moment of this great season; take time to pray; do not let the rush of the season take you away from its meaning—Christ is the source, center and end of our days.

 As we celebrate this wonderful Solemnity and enter into this great season of grace, let us ask the Lord to conform our hearts to His own as He writes straight on the crooked lines of our hearts!

Please know that you are with me every day at the altar, and please pray for me!

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you!

 With my prayers and thanks, I am,

Your grateful pastor,

Father Jordan,O.P.

 

November 11, 2018

November 27, 2018

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of Our Lord remain always with us!

The Liturgical Year and its readings make a decided change in the next few weeks as we head toward the Solemnity of Christ the King, and the following Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent. Where has another year gone?

The readings we will hear at Mass point more and more towards the consummation of all people, times and places in Jesus Christ. In frequently apocalyptic language, we are reminded that we will all have to appear before the judgment seat of God. This is the Church’s time of the year for New Year’s Resolutions.  Think of all the preparations that we have already begun: plans for Thanksgiving Day and Dinner; remote plans for Christmas and the fast approaching “Christmas – Break”. As we prepare to end one Liturgical Year and begin another, it is the perfect time to come to Confession and take a good inventory of our lives, how we have grown and how we have fallen short of who we are really called to be: God’s beloved sons and daughters. Take advantage of the great grace of the Sacrament of Penance.  It is not about us being so bad, but rather, about God being so good and longing to share His goodness, love, and mercy with us!

Last week in the midst of our celebrations for All Saints and All Souls, I was called to the Hospice on Main Street to anoint someone who was dying.  I was called to bedside of a young man who had died after a valiant fight with brain cancer. He was 27 and November 1 was his first Wedding Anniversary.  It was a graced – privilege to be with his wife, parents and mother – in – law as he slipped into the arms of God. As I left the Hospice my phone rang; one of my former parishioners was in town and wanted to surprise me with a quick visit. The day was packed with work and appointments, and I wasn’t “ready” for a surprise. I instantly thought of the dear people I had just left: were they ready to let go of someone they loved so much?  My parishioner offered me a real wakeup call: make time for the surprises in life! Standing by the death bed of a 27-year-old man and a surprise visit from a dear parishioner, suddenly put life into a new perspective. Pope Benedict writes in Spe Salvi “we have become so busy keeping our lives in order that we are exhausted and have become fanatics to the modern world, and so we lose hope. “

How has God recently surprised you? How has He tried to surprise you and you may have been in too much of a rush? Stop and find the glorious ray of hope given as we step back to know His love and mercy!

Until we meet at the altar: O, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

 In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, O.P.

 

November 18, 2018

November 27, 2018

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of Our Lord remain always with us!

Today is the 33rd Sunday of the Church Year – the penultimate Sunday before another Year of Grace concludes next Sunday with the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King. Where does time go?

In today’s bulletin you receive the Annual Parish Financial Report. I am deeply grateful to the many parishioners who give of their time and talent to make this report credible, transparent, and a reality.

There is good news in the report: we are a generous Parish with a great heart for the service of the poor! It is also good news that much of our deficit is from costs beyond our control. However, the report demonstrates clearly that there are challenges before us: controlled spending; the necessary salaries and benefits for an expanding staff to adequately address the mission and needs of the Parish; increased Programming as the Parish grows; growing the number of parishioners; and increased revenue.

In addition, there is the Tower Project that has loomed over us for several years: we are having the Tower repaired in 2019. I am currently receiving bids from various contractors for the restoration of the Bell Tower and tuckpointing the entire Church. Shortly after Thanksgiving those submitting bids will meet with members of the Diocesan Facilities Office and myself to explain their approach to the project and how they arrived at the proposed cost. The initial numbers are lower than expected. Work is scheduled sometime after Easter. I will keep you posted.

On Thursday of this week we celebrate our “American  Holy Day”: Thanksgiving. I am reminded of the words of a hymn, “Friends on earth and friends above; for all gentle thoughts and mild; Lord. Of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise!” Each year I am more aware of those on earth and especially those above – Thank you, Lord for loving us through both of these friends! We need an increase of gentle and mild thoughts: as a nation and a world we have become so aggressive, so harsh in the tone of our words: like the people of different colors and religions on that first Thanksgiving, let us commit ourselves a new to our grateful, gentle, mild, and true hymn of grateful praise!

I hope you will be able to join us for Mass at 9am on Thanksgiving Day! Please bring canned goods, etc. to be brought forward at the Offertory and blessed before it is giving to Mary’s House. This is the constant dynamic of the Eucharist: to offer gifts in Thanksgiving and then to give them away. This is exactly what Christ does every day: He offers Himself to the Father for us, and then He gives Himself to us that we might live: now and forever!

As I come to the altar on Thanksgiving Morning, each and every one of you are in my heart: I am deeply grateful to be here with you. Transitions are never easy, but facing them with faith, hope and love allows them to be moments of grace, God’s activity, in our lives: each of you are grateful – moments of grace to me! A Blessed Thanksgiving to you, my dear ones!

O, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

 In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, O.P.

 

November 4, 2018

November 5, 2018

From Father Jordan

 My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of Our Lord remain always with us!

It’s a week later and the incredulity of last Saturday’s attack upon the Tree of Life Synagogue continues to ruminate in my heart and soul. Last Monday, October 29, I attended a Prayer Vigil at the Jewish Alliance located in our neighborhood. The Prayer Vigil was very beautiful as once again the light and warmth of candles pierced the darkness of the night and offered a glimmer of hope in this senseless situation. I was delighted to see a great crowd of our parishioners’ present, as well as Monsignor Darcy and Dominican Fr. James Cuddy from PC. Let us continue to pray for all who suffer from the effects of violence and terrorism; and let us pray for an increasing spirit of reconciliation and understanding throughout our country and the entire world.

 

A Few Shout Outs

I want to offer a few “shout outs” of thanks, congratulations and welcome: Congratulations to our own Miss Marie who retired from the Providence Public Schools on Wednesday! What will Miss Marie do with all her free time? Thank you to Karin Schrott and her many committee members as the work tirelessly to prepare for the Christmas Bazaar on December 1. Thank you to Bob Short for organizing a Holy Hour last Wednesday to pray for the safety of the Refugee Caravan currently heading North towards Mexico. Thank you and Congratulations to Pat Recupero, Sarah Garcia-Mata, Janice Opalenski, Mary and Jamie Hill, and Fred and Ellen Reinhardt who have volunteered to form our new Parish Council – more as this all develops. Welcome and Congratulations to Stephen Higgins, our new Director of Music and Organist who begins his ministry among us today. Let us pray for Steve as he begins his ministry at Saint Sebastian.

Looking Forward

The bulletin attests to the many activities going on in the Parish: ranging from Faith Formation; Community Outreach; and social events – we are beginning to enter that “most wonderful time of the year!” Let’s make the most of these opportunities to learn about the Lord, to work together, to pray together, and to play together: see the glass half full and not half empty. We need your participation in so many ways! Please look over all that is offered and find a way to be a steward and give of your time and talent to one or a few of the activities taking place.

The Finance Council and Trustees met recently to discuss our current financial status; ways to revise and improve the budget for next year to insure greater transparency; and prepared the annual report which will be coming to all of you soon.

All of this may all seem a bit daunting – it could be. However, when we do all, and we do, in the power of Christ Crucified, there is nothing we cannot accomplish as we do all we do bravely, protected by the Power of the Cross, and striving to establish light and banish darkness!

Until we meet at the altar: O, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

 In the Lord,

 

Fr. Jordan, O.P.

 

October 28, 2018

October 23, 2018

From Father Jordan

 My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of Our Lord remain always with us!

Lex orandi, lex credendi: vita vivendi!

 The above phrase has guided the thought and praxis of Liturgical Theology since the 3rd century. What does it mean?  Here is the translation: the law prayed, becomes the law believed, making the life lived. The Latinists in the congregation will know this is not a literal translation, but this more poetic translation has been universally accepted, and has formed our faith.

Prayer shapes our beliefs; and the way we pray and what we believe shapes the way we live. This reality is often overlooked in Catholic life: it was overlooked before the Second Vatican Council, and it has been overlooked tremendously since the Second Vatican Council. Why; if the Liturgy is so important, why would priests and bishops not adhere to this syllogism more ardently? Two main reasons seem most
apparent. First, to celebrate the liturgy well requires thought, dedication, humility, and obedience. The Liturgy, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, calls from us a willingness to suspend our control over time and space and enter God’s time or Kairos: to do this there can be nothing expedient or minimal in the way we approach and understand the Liturgy. Secondly, the Liturgy shapes us to become who God has created us to be: children of our Heavenly Father who live as a people whom God has called to be His own, caring for one another as we help to build His Kingdom until He comes in glory. Both reasons teach us that life and society are not about me; and that we are destined to do great, even difficult, things for God and one another. To pray, believe, and live in this way can be very overwhelming, perhaps frightening. By God’s grace we are able to face any hesitation or resistance, and become willing to allow the Liturgy to shape our praying, believing, and living: we will discover that we can do even that which is most difficult!

It is my deepest prayer and hope that this is how you and I will come to pray, believe, and live. I promise you that if we do the words of Saint Catherine of Siena will be true in our lives, and in our life as a Parish Community:

If you are what you are meant to be, you will

Set the world ablaze!

 May Saint Sebastian’s become a Parish Community that sets the world ablaze!

 Until we meet at the altar: O, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

 In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, O.P.

 

October 21, 2018

October 16, 2018

From Father Jordan

 My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

If you were at Mass last weekend, you had a glimpse of what Music, and especially Music in the Liturgy, means to me. I loved playing the organ last weekend. There, at the organ, God always brings me back to the beginning of this walk He and I have had all these years. And, it was at the organ that I first sensed the desire to serve God as His Priest. Music is a great gateway to God and the beauty and majesty of His
Gospel. Music within the Liturgy is a very important part of our liturgical celebrations, and if we allow it, it can be a tremendous help in expressing and growing in our faith!

When we discuss Music within the Liturgy we often enter a difficult terrain of varying tastes, ideas, and beliefs of what is or is not acceptable. Throughout my life as both a professional Church Musician and as a priest and pastor many aspects of the Liturgy and Music within the Liturgy, have changed, but there has always been this constant: we do not sing AT Mass, rather, we SING the Mass. This little phrase teaches us that music is not some nicety we add to the Mass, but rather that Music is an essential part of the Mass. The third edition of the Roman Missal, the big book the priest prays from during Mass, instructs us about the importance of music within the liturgy: the Christian faithful who come together as one in expectation of the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together Psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles. Singing is the sign of the heart’s joy! (Roman Missal, #39)

I began playing the organ in Church at age 9. In the fifty-two years I have been “on the bench” the musical life of our Church has morphed many times. With the promulgation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, the Church’s desire has been restored: to sing the Mass means to sing the texts appointed by the Church for the Mass, i.e. The Introit or Entrance Antiphon; the Graduale or Responsorial Psalm; and the Communio or Communion Antiphon. The hymns chosen, especially to begin Mass and during the Communion Procession, should be taken from the prescribed texts in the Missal, or be as close to them as possible. At Saint Sebastian’s we have heard this happen when Andrew sings a quiet piece of chant while the priest incenses the altar at the beginning of Mass; or before or after we sing at Communion.

The singing of hymns is really a post Vatican II imposition upon the Roman Liturgy: our celebrations are not meant for hymns, but for the singing of Psalms – the poetry inspired by the Holy Spirit and contained within Sacred Scripture. Why the psalms? Because the psalms are the language of God and the Liturgy is a conversation with God, which God begins using the words of God, and in which God has the final word.

Our congregation sings so beautifully! I am often taken back by the quality of your participation – and I thank God for it – and for all of you. May our celebrations be a joyful song of praise to the One who made the stars!

Until we meet at the altar: O, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

 

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, O.P.

 

October 14, 2018

October 11, 2018

From Father Jordan

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

I hope you found our celebration of Rosary Sunday helpful and meaningful. I thought all went well. I especially enjoyed being with our younger parishioners at the 9am Mass – although my getting up from sitting on the altar step must have been something to behold!

After our obscuras last week about the Rosary, I want to return to our “discussion” about the Liturgy. The question I would like to pose to you this week is, “Are you coming to Mass on auto-pilot?” I know that on many occasions this can be the way in which I came to celebrate Mass; it’s called being human. But attending Mass is not simply human – it is the place where heaven and earth are joined as one, and therefore, this act is a mixture of humanity and divinity. We bring ourselves to Mass with all our human failure, successes, hopes, and dreams. By the power of Christ in and through the Holy Spirit all that we are is invited to and transformed by this glimpse of heaven that we are given in and through the celebration of the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI challenges us in this way, “In the Eucharist we are coming to the greatest Feast of Faith we will know until heaven, and we act as if we are being fast food from McDonald’s or some other such place.” Sometimes, going through the actions is all we can do, and the Lord understands that so mercifully: He delights in progress, not perfection.

Auto-pilot: we have all been there. But, if we give the slightest bit of effort, God will be found faithful! May we come to this “Feast of Faith” with alert minds, open hearts, and attentive ears to receive the untold gifts our Father in heaven longs to give us!

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

October 7, 2018

October 2, 2018

From Father Jordan

My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

Because today is Rosary Sunday, I want to write to you about the importance of the Rosary in our Catholic Life. We will return to our Liturgy study next week.

Why the Rosary? Why this recitation over and over of the same prayer, the Hail Mary, with the predictable interruption of the Glory Be, Our Father, and Fatima Prayer? The repetition of each of these prayers is to aid us into contemplation. Contemplation is that place of quiet, loving, union with the Trinity, Our Lady, and the Communion of Saints. Contemplation is simply being in the loving presence of Our Lord: no words need be uttered, I listen for Him, and He listens to me.

As we pray the Rosary our contemplation is fixed upon the life (the Joyful and Luminous Mysteries), death (the Sorrowful Mysteries) and resurrection of Christ (the Glorious Mysteries). In our silent meditation upon the life of our Blessed Savior, we learn again and are reminded that it is God alone who changes hearts. “Ask yourself whether this involved any merit, any motivation, any right on your part,” asks Saint Augustine, “and see if you find anything but grace?” Our lives are all grace! This is especially true today: we need a radical conversion of hearts! By constantly recalling the grace, power and importance of the Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, we place ourselves with Mary before the One who is pure and faithful love, mercy and Truth, who alone changes hearts and forms us in virtue.

I would think that it is such an awareness that has caused Pope Francis to ask for the daily recitation of the Rosary throughout this Marian Month of October, and also, the recitation of the Prayer of Saint Michael the Archangel at the end of every Mass.  By God’s Grace and Mercy the Rosary will help to change our hearts, and grant us a new Lepanto in which the victor is not military, but spiritual. May the Prayer to Saint Michael awaken within us an awareness of the reality of evil, protect us from all adversity, and free our world from all that would harm us, without and within.

Until we meet at the altar, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, who have recourse to Thee!

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, OP

 

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