Fr. Jerry's Corner
Why The Ornamental Pear Trees Were Taken Down
Once upon a time a young lady (Sue Bowab - she was "young" at the time), who was an employee of St. John's, had planted flowers (i.e. various perennials), along the front of the rectory and the front wall of the church. When the major renovation of the church took place, well over 30 years ago, the flowers were trampled underfoot and had not been replaced. Several years later, after the completion of the renovation, Fr. Doug Grant, who was stationed here at St. John's, went to A-Way Nurseries and bought four young ornamental Bradford Pear trees, and planted them. With the passing of time, they grew, and did very well. Unfortunately, Bradford Pear trees have a relatively short life span.
When I first arrived here as pastor, Roger Rousselle, maintenance supervisor for many years here at St. John's, asked if we could take these trees down. In spite of being pretty to look at, they are (were) high maintenance - making a mess from the flowers and fruit, and all of that being transferred from shoes to carpets in the church. (They also had an unpleasant odor.) At the time, I decided against removing them, however.
A couple years ago, I noticed some die-back on one side of a couple of the trees, and the start of die-back on the others. The leaves were also beginning to show signs of a viral infection (i.e. leaf mosaic). When I looked up information pertaining to Bradford Pear trees, I discovered other features that could cause problems, the worse being an invasive root system. Due to this fact, the article suggested that these trees should not be planted near (house) foundations, walkways, or walls, and any underground pipes. You may have noticed, this is exactly where these trees had been planted. In fact, one was very near to the gas line! As attractive as the trees were, and as much as I like trees in general, I could not conscientiously allow them to cause serious damage to these areas; especially the gas line and rectory foundation. It was for these reasons the trees were removed.
We will be doing other work to improve and beautify the areas where the trees had been, so keep an eye out for the progress.
Apologetically and sincerely,
We celebrated the Rite of Confirmation on Tuesday evening, October 20, and will have the same on Tuesday, October 27. In all, twenty-nine young people from St. John's parish will have received the Sacrament of Confirmation. When we speak of Confirmation, typically, we speak of the "Gifts of the Holy Spirit" - wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel (right judgement), piety (reverence), fortitude (courage), and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe.) [Fear of the Lord is having one's life centered on God.]
Some appropriate and inspiring reading on these "gifts" may be found in certain books. For instance, concerning wisdom, fortitude, and fear of the Lord, may be found in various books about St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta - especially those compiled from her own writings. Concerning understanding, and counsel: The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Concerning piety: various biographies of the lives of the saints, and their own writings, also.
These may all be accessed from various sources, such as: EWTN.com - Religious Catalogue, Ignatius Press, and Marian Press (Stockbridge, MA), to name a few.
Highly recommended are "consecration" books available from the Marian Press:
1 - "33 Days to Merciful Love" A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy
2 - "33 Days to Morning Glory" - preparation for Marian Consecration
3 - "Consecration to St. Joseph"
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful, and will hear your prayers. Prayer is the best weapon we have. It is the key to God's heart." (St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina)
St. Padre Pio said that "prayer is the best weapon we have." Prayer, "living" prayer, takes effort; it demands use of our will and desire, our intellect,, and mostly, the grace of God. Prayer, true prayer of the heart, demands listening - a listening heart, to hear the "tiny whispering sound," the "still small voice" (RSVCE 1 Kings 19:12) of God. Worrying and fretting is useless.
This reminds me of the time that Jesus visited Marth, Mary, and Lazarus, and Martha was frustrated that her sister, Mary, was not helping her with the work of hospitality. When she complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping her, (but rather, sat at His feet, listening to Him), Jesus said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her." (cf. Luke 10:38-42)
Simply, prayer, (i.e. listening to God), comes first; which helps us then to face the toils and trials of life with the assurance: "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27c)
"I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
I was moving things around on my desk, in my upstairs "priest cave," and I came across a card with a picture of a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Grace. (The statue of the Blessed Mother on the right side of our church, as you face the altar, is Our Lady of Grace.) I turned the card over and found this prayer:
|Lord God, may we grateful|
|for all that we have,|
|and compassionate toward|
|all those who are suffering|
|at this difficult time.|
|May we hold back nothing, and|
|strive to be the ministers|
|of prayer and mercy,|
|like the disciples of Him|
|Who went about doing|
|good in times of need.|
The card came from "Aid to the Church in Need," a Catholic charity serving the persecuted and suffering around the world. (www.churchinneed.org)
May Our Lady of Grace help us to follow Jesus, her Son and our Lord.
(Maybe I should look around at what's on my desk a little more often!)
The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ. (CCC 1377)
Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharistic cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession." (CCC 1378)
[Quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., 1983]
Come and pray in His "Real Presence" on the 1st Sunday of each month 2:30-3:30pm.
I've been telling many people about Sister Clare Crockett. Please go to sisterclare.com to Watch the Full Movie, a very inspirational documentary on the life Sister Clare Crockett (Sr. Clare Maria of the Trinity and the Heart of Mary.) She died in an earthquake, in Ecuador, in 2016 at the age of 33.
**Fr. Jerry was busy cleaning the church this week, so no "corner."**
I don't know about you, but I get very discouraged when I watch the evening news. A horrible injustice done to one person, precipitates outrage, which is justified; but then gets overtaken by lawless, violent, and unjustified outrageous behavior.
There are so many people who are at odds over very important matters concerning the human person, from conception until death, whether it concerns the sacredness of each human life, from the moment it begins at conception, or how it ends, naturally, as God intends; or by misguided mercy.
There is so much that can discourage us!
But there is also much encouragement. The news may show us a little bit of it, but there is so much more. I am encouraged by the little that I am aware of, how people are helping each other. Some do not know the people they are helping, by charitable deeds of all sorts; and many do not know who helped them. There are, I'm sure many more than I know of, who are magnanimously going about doing good things for others.
I pray that the Holy Spirit, God's Love dwelling in us who believe in Jesus, will motivate us to use the means that we have, to help those in need. May the Holy Spirit make us "magnanimous encouragers!"
**Fr Jerry was not in his corner this week.**
We are patiently waiting for details concerning "public" Masses. (There is no such thing as a "private" Mass; but attendance in person, in times of plagues and pandemics have been limited to only the celebrant, [and server, if necessary].) We are soon to make some changes, as we will once again be allowed to open our churches, Catholic, and otherwise, for Masses, and worship. The details are what we are awaiting.
We will have to follow all mandated protocols such as:
- Everyone will have to enter by Myrick Street doors only;
- "Social distancing" (so strange, but necessary);
- Use of masks covering nose and mouth;
- Use of proper cleaning methods before/after Mass(es);
- Seating will be specific to number of people allowed for each Mass;
- Only the number allowed for each Mass will be able to enter; (We don't know, yet, what that number will be.)
- It does look like the weekend of May 30-31 will be the "grand re-opening!"
I encourage all parishioners to use the parish website to access important information concerning our beloved St. John the Evangelist Parish.
All of you are in my prayers - always; and I thank you for yours.
PS This is not the "New Normal;" but a temporary means to deal with our given situation.)
We are currently waiting for guidelines to resume public Masses.
Some of these will be:
- the number of people allowed to attend each Mass (dependent on the size of each church and spacing of each person);
- all commonly used seating, etc. must be thoroughly sanitized after/before each Mass;
- specifics about distribution of Communion will be announced;
- the collection(s) will be taken as people come into the church for Mass;
- only the Myrick Street doors will be used to enter the church for Mass;
There will be much more information given on our website and in the bulletin as soon as we receive it. We will all need to be patient as we go through the necessary transitional period of resuming public celebration of the Eucharist. Personally, I do not like to use the term "the new normal," when referring to the way we have to do things, at this time. We simply have to do things in ways that will maximize the safety of each person in regards to health, not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well.
One very important factor, in coming together for public worship, is that anyone who has any symptoms of illness should refrain from coming to the church for Mass, or even for a visit. This would present a very real problem toward keeping the church properly sanitized.
Let us make every effort to be considerate toward the well-being of others, as well as our own; all the while praying for the Mercy of God to be on us and on the whole world.
Have you noticed the Scripture verse on this month's parish calendar? St. Paul's letter to the Romans tells them (and us): "Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer." (Rom. 12:12) How appropriate for the situation we find ourselves in at this time! Hope, endurance, and prayer are so important for each of us.
The Sacred Scriptures (i.e. the Bible) informs us in many ways about hope, endurance, and prayer. One example can be found, once again, in St. Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 8, verses 18 through 39. "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (v. 18) "We know that the whole creation has been groaning with labor pains together until now; and not only creation, but we ourselves, who wait for...the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. ... But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." (cf. v.v. 22-25) "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, ...(cf. v. 26) "...the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose." (cf. v.v. 27-28) "What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?" (v. 31)
Please be encouraged to read and meditate on Romans 8:18-39.
What's happening in Church?
More information is needed from the governor and the Bishop before any decisions will be made.
What we do know:
- Opening will be incremental. When we are able to assemble for Mass, it will be very small numbers, per Mass at first.
- We will still have to observe "social distancing" (strange term, isn't it?), and continue to wear masks.
As soon as I receive more info, it will be posted here or in the Bulletin (online.)
This week, I simply want to thank you for your support for the parish, as well as me.
Thank you for being faithful in your prayers, following the Mass on T.V. or online, making a "spiritual communion," and for being faithful to prayer times; all of which we always need, but probably even more in this time of trial.
Thank you for your concern and willingness to help those in need. Even those who are in need themselves have expressed their concern and willingness to help others as best as they can.
We just celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday. I was thinking of how Jesus told St. Faustina that He demanded of her works of Mercy; and to relate this command to all the world. He told her that works of Mercy can be carried out in three ways: deeds, words, and prayer. Works of Mercy are necessary for all His disciples. If we cannot carry out works, then we can offer words of Mercy (e.g. forgiveness, consoling others, encouraging others, etc.); and even if we cannot carry out works or words of Mercy, we can offer prayers for others. Of course, if we are able, we can do all three.
Finally, I want to thank all of you who are able to continue financial support of the parish, and are doing so. Your generosity to the parish, and to others, is a blessing to us, and to those you are able to help in their time of need.
God bless you abundantly!
In the Risen Lord,
Do you have time? Time for prayer? Time for reflection? Time for inspirational reading/viewing (good programs, movies, documentaries)?
We can pray, alone, with God. We can pray with others - by phone, etc; by watching EWTN which airs the rosary, Diving Mercy Chaplet, and, most especially, the Mass.
Good reading/viewing helps us to reflect on the real meaning of life.
EWTN provides many possibilities to help us, through movies, programs e.g. "EWTN Live," etc.
Use a computer? A wonderful website is MAGISCENTER.COM. Click onto "Happiness & Suffering" then scroll down to "Why Would a Loving God Allow Suffering?" That's only one example - there's much, much more on this website.
Want to be inspired? Watch "All or Nothing!" a documentary about a young nun who died in an earthquake. Go to: sisterclare.com (Watch the full movie!)
3 Meditations: Three Most Holy Acts of God
1. The Annunciation: Lk 1: 26-38; The Word became flesh! Jn 1: 1-14 esp. v. 14
2. The Institution of the Eucharist - The Word is given to us in the form of Bread and Wine, which truly become the Body and Blood of Christ: Jn 6:27-69; Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:19-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26 (and 27-29)
3. The Suffering, Crucifixion and Death of Jesus on the Cross: Jn 19:1-30; and Jesus is Risen! Alleluia, He is Risen!: Jn 20:1-10, and 11-18; Lk 24:13-35 - The Risen Lord Jesus "was known to them in the breaking of the bread" (cf. Lk 2:35)
P.S. There are many Christians, around the world, who have set up a special place of prayer in their homes. This can be a real blessing for each home in this time of trial. A crucifix, a picture or statue of our Blessed Mother Mary near it, a picture or statue of St. Joseph; and any other particular favorite Saints; placed in an area conducive for prayer, if possible. Some make of place of prayer for each person, in their own rooms. Let us all continue to turn to God, with trust, seeking to fulfill His Most Holy Will in everything!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Recently, praying the "Office of Readings," in the "Liturgy of the Hours" (part of the "Divine Office,") which priests are obligated to pray, (and laity encouraged to participate in); the 1st readings were from the Book of Exodus, (the second book at the beginning of the Bible; part of the "Pentateuch" - the first five books in the Bible, commonly called "The Law." - c.f. e.g.: Jn 1:17; e.g. Jn 1:45; e.g. Lk 16:16-17 - with an extreme number of references to the Law, [i.e. the Pentateuch], in the New Testament.)
With that said, one of the readings from Exodus Chapter 33, particularly verses 7-10, came to me as an allegory concerning our time and the situation we find ourselves in (sans public Masses). Only Moses could go into the tent, at a particular time, to speak to God. The people would worship God at the door of their own tent. Even though we may go into church during certain times, the people of God are not allowed to be physically present at the time of worship - the Mass. All this would change when they arrived in the "Promised Land," hundreds of years later, with the building of the temple. Prior to this, the people were in the wilderness. Doesn't it seem that we are in a sort of "wilderness" now? the Israelites were, at times, without food and water. (The Scriptures don't say anything about toilet paper!) We're not quite that bad off; but in another way, we are much worse off without the Eucharist.
Let us pray fervently that we may soon come out of this "wilderness," and have the patience to endure it, through prayer, sacrifice, and works of charity. The Israelites that were allowed to make it into the Promised Land were only those who remained faithful to God. May we, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, grow in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity in this time of trial.
You are all very much in my prayers; and I thank you for yours.