Are We Giving or Merely Tipping God?

 
I often wonder if we truly give from our abundance? Do we even really stop to think what that means? Have we ever sat down and figured out the true percentage we give to the church, or do we simply throw in a certain dollar amount to appease our guilt? Most of us will spend several minutes trying to figure out what the server at our local restaurant was worth, sometimes even employing an app or tip calculator! But, do we ever do the same thing at church? Giving to God requires we do so in a deliberate and joyful manner. God’s promise back to us? God will return it ten fold! If we are honest, we don’t really believe that though, do we?
 
Last Sunday, Presidential Candidate Donald Trump attended a small Iowa Presbyterian church. Ironically the scripture used for that service was from the Gospel of Luke, (4:14–21), which tells of Jesus returning to preach to his home synagogue in Nazareth. After Jesus’ initial remarks were well received, His subsequent comments turned the audience to rage. Why? When Jesus described God’s care for foreigners and enemies, they tried to kill him. I have discovered in all my years now as a priest and pastor that people don’t get offended at Bible readings — in fact they barely hear them. The trouble comes when you begin to spell out what the text means. 
 
The pastor of the Presbyterian church, Rev. Dr. Pamela Saturnia, preached as follows to explain Luke:
 
“Jesus is teaching us today he has come for those outside the church. Jesus has come to bring news to the people we would least expect to be part of the church. Jesus has come to proclaim freedom and healing to those who are the most unloved, the most discriminated against, the most forgotten in our community and in our world. Jesus has come to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor on teenagers who are homeless, on Syrian refugees, on the Mexican migrants, on the people who find themselves prisoners of addiction and their families, on the poorest of the poor in Haiti. Jesus has come for them, Jesus has come for everyone. Yes he has come to give these very gifts to us. He has given them to us, dear friends, but not only us. And instead of feeling rage at Jesus that we have to share him, we are called to do just that. Share Jesus with the ones who need him, regardless of who they are.”
 

The result? Trump reportedly left $100 in the collection basket, as noted by a CNN correspondent.

So this is not a political statement, nor even a statement of what Mr. Trump should or should not have given. But it should cause us all to pause. After all, Mr. Trump is very clear on his abundance of wealth and great business success. Why, then, leave such a relatively small amount to help God and the church?

We are not a large parish, but we are growing. I believe we grow because we ‘walk the talk’ and believe in the living God. We should note that it takes on average $27.50 per person, per week to keep us here. We have many who give that and much more; we also have more who give decidedly less. We ask for eGiving to allow us to budget and plan better, yet few have responded lately. But eGiving is important when confronted with a situation like last week when many could not make it to Mass due to the winter weather. I assure you, the bills still came and are still due this week; what’s lacking is many donations to help share the burden. Now, our parish board is going on their annual retreat to talk of budget and needs and how we grow and care for those foreigners Jesus spoke of in Luke. We can’t do it without your help, your dedication, your sacrifice, your giving from your first fruits – from  your abundance. Why not set up your eGiving here, right now, and honor God and your parish that is always there for you?

Now, please don’t get me wrong on this topic, as I have been very clear: I don’t think that everyone should give the same. At Saint Miriam, we believe in “equal sacrifice, not equal giving.”  That is what we say about tithing. Do you give joyfully, or grumble all the while your life simply falls apart and you wonder why?

I am sure that Mr. Trump did not think much about the amount helot last Sunday, or that he was giving something more for show than our of an honest dear to further the kingdom of God.

That is not how you give to God, that is how you tip Him, and I doubt that $100 was from his abundance, nor did it reach even the respectable margin of 15%….

 



Christian, Christian, How Does Your Garden Grow?

 

One of my all time favorite Mother Goose Rhymes, “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”!  You will remember it,

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells,

And cockle shells,

And pretty maids all in a row”

Imagine how I felt when I discovered it actually isn’t such a lovely story if you dive into the dark history behind the rhyme!

You see, as a child your own mother may have read this poem to you lots of times, and perhaps like me, you may have envisioned a beautiful lady walking around her very colorful and warmly appointed garden with pride! There she was, in my deepest imagination in the warmth of the summer sun, showing off her beautiful spring blooming flowers for all to see, with her “silver bells” and “cockle shells” and “pretty maids” as flowers with women’s faces on them!  But in actuality this poem, like many Mother Goose Rhymes has a darker and more sinister meaning.

There are several interpretations of what people think the meaning of the poem was. Some say that the silver bells stood for the Catholic Cathedral bells, the cockle shells stood for the pilgrimage to Spain, and the pretty maids in a row stood for a row of nuns. The ‘Mary’ that is portrayed in this nursery rhyme is none other than Mary Tudor, also known in historical infamy as “Bloody Mary”.

Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon (the first wife of Henry VIII). It seems that in an attempt to break away from the Church of England, she tried to revert back to the Catholic Church, as soon as she became Queen. It was said that she persecuted and murdered many Protestants. Her reign of terror became widely known over the course of history, thus giving her that well deserved title of “Bloody Mary”.  Silver bells stood for thumb screws that were torture devices, cockle shells that was a torture device, and the pretty maids in a row stood for the people lining up to be executed by the Halifax Gibbet, which is the same as the guillotine. Oh, and then how about that infamous garden? Well it is said the true meaning is said to refer to the cemetery, being that the more deaths, the more the cemetery “garden” would grow!

It is very interesting to think that these rather clever, childhood, Mother Goose nursery rhymes could have so many double meanings and all it takes is a little research to uncover the truth behind these bed time tales.

So it is with us, as human beings. We are complicated and what we see on the outside is rarely what is on the inside. Our darker, more sinister side – one that we often hide from the world – seems to be always present. We need God and we need one another. We only find that in a community of faith, hope, and love. Like here at Saint Miriam

Make time this Sunday to attend Mass and allow your true Garden to grow in bounty.
 


A Child of God Deserves Better…

 

“To tear ourselves away from the everyday, from habit, from mental laziness which hides from us the strangeness of reality, we must receive something like a real bludgeon blow,” wrote playwright Eugene Ionesco in 1959.

The playwright’s metaphor may seem rather string, and perhaps even violent, but with good reason. Breaking from our usual habits is difficult and often painful – requiring not just willpower and stamina, but also the courage to take risks, to fail, and to pick ourselves up again, and to not hear the world’s quick rhetoric of failure. That is why I have decided to try to better myself in two important ways: (1) increase my fitness to the next level, (2) increase my desire for God in my daily life and work.

Now to be sure, the turn of a new year presents a dangerous allure of the ‘clean slate’! But I have decided that my slate need not be ‘clean’, just made with a little more determination, a little more careful planning, and a little less ‘what happens, happens’ attitude. In other words, I am a child of God, and as such I deserve better. So does God, my Creator.

Many of us make big, bold resolutions as if starting from scratch. Some fail year after year and then find a new calendar flip is time to double-down, rather than to reevaluate. Then, within weeks, we fail and misery sets in and adds to our already hidden depression as we say to ourselves – deep inside where we never let anyone in – “I failed again. I am a failure.”

Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. Most of us have existing commitments (jobs, relationships, children, school, etc.) and a slew of bad habits (a weakness for mindless Netflix instant movies, bad eating habits such as fast food, continuing in abusive relationships, et al) that don’t go away at the end of the calendar year as easily as the page is flipped.

Now, before you think this post is going to depress you, my point is not that we should throw up our hands and do away with New Year’s resolutions. Rather, it’s that we should simplify our goals – fully recognizing our existing constraints, strengths, and weaknesses – so that we can actually achieve them.

So, I have begun to eat better. I have not gone on a diet or any fad ‘drink this and lose 78 pounds within a week’ shake plan! No, I have just decided to eat more natural foods, cut out processed foods to the best of my ability, to think before I eat. I have also decided to do the same with my relationship with God. Seems strange that a priest needs to consciously do this, but I do: I am broken, and hurting, and recognize that I am on the verge of depression again. So, I need to refocus on me and how God loves me, despite my disbelief that anyone could really love me, let alone God.

So, I pray you will join me this year and choose quality over quantity. Let’s dispense with the resolutions list that’s a vague mishmash of broad ambitions and unreachable aspirational new habits in favor of a more targeted, more meaningful, more achievable list of goals. Let us become healthier and bring God in our lives more deeply.

After all, we are children of God.
 


Living Tiny for God and Not Taking Myself So Seriously!

 
The tiny house movement has certainly gained momentum over the years, with all sorts of tiny houses to include cob cottages, yurts, gingerbread cottages, domes, micro houses, teardrop campers, RV’s, houseboats, straw bale houses, and motorhomes. And, yes, you will recall that I am a member of this group of sojourners who have downsized drastically, let go of status and prestige of owning a

McMansion, or a condo in ‘just the right neighborhood’, and learned the rule of ‘one in, one out, same size!’

Recently I read about “A tiny house designed for reflection,” is an interesting small space that started off as a school project, but is sure to inspire many tiny house builders. The project was called “Seelenkiste,” which translates roughly as “Sprit Shelter.” They tiny house design was built as a place to study and contemplation, for self discovery through meditation and introspection. It was in reading this article that I wondered if we ever stop to consider that our life is almost always about the intersection between story and journey? As we begin a new year, perhaps we should pause and reflect on how we might more intentionally divest ourselves of selfishness and self-centeredness and all the ‘things; that distract us from God and each other, to actually see how we might impact, for the better, the lives of others? For some of us it takes time away, for some just a meaningful break from work or doing some light reading, and for some a tiny house is the answer!

Now, to be perfectly honest, it has not been easy to live tiny. Period. There have been lots of issues, learning an entire new way to live, manage resources, and now enduring the first blast of winter has brought new issues! Recently, my pipes froze (twice!) and I woke to no water. It took the help of our parish facilities director, Brendan, almost all day to figure out what I had done wrong, many things that I failed to do like winterize certain ‘tanks and plumbing hoses’, as well as to set up a ‘system’ for when things go below freezing! Yes, it takes a lot to patience to ‘live tiny’ and this week I failed miserably and almost gave up. Then, I calmed down, sat back in my tiny home and reflected on the fact that every home, every manner of living, has its share of problems. We never really escape them, they just often morph and change, so we need to bend, too. We need to see where God is to be found in every joy and within every sorrow or problem. 

So, through this experience, I have learned that life is really about adapting to change, and not taking ourselves too seriously. It is also about having a little patience and fun along the way. To wit…

Recently I read an article about a priest in the Philippines who had been reprimanded by church leadership for his creative idea to get worshipers moving during a Christmas service: he used a hoverboard! Yes, on Christmas Eve, the priest, who hasn’t been named, used the toy to glide in and out of rows of churchgoers while singing a Christmas song in English and their native, Tagalog, which was caught on camera and has since gone viral. (See it Here!) His parishioners seemed to enjoy the performance, with many taking photos and video. His bosses?  Well, let’s just say that they weren’t so pleased! He was reprimanded by church leaders, who criticized his use of what might have been an early present.  

They wrote in a released statement:

“Last December 24, 2015, before the final blessing of the Christmas eve mass, as a way of greeting his parishioners, the priest sang a Christmas song, while going around the nave standing on a hoverboard,” said the diocese in San Pablo, southeast of the capital Manila. “That was wrong. The Eucharist demands utmost respect and reverence… Consequently, it is not a personal celebration where one can capriciously introduce something to get the attention of the people.”

Really? After living tiny, I think Jesus would be pleased to see such joy and excitement on people actually going to church, especially as they celebrate His birthday! I think God is pleased when we, as priests and a people who love Him, do things to bring joy to the lives of others, even if not written in some book that someone else feels God likes better! 

Maybe it’s just because I have been without water, but if anyone has a hoverboard, I’m in!
 


Please keep Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth!

 

Once again I received an email that told me all the ways in which I am the most awful priest in the world. Once again I was told that ‘droves of parishioners have left and several more are pulling their support because of the way I run Saint Miriam.’ Once again, it is simply gossip and rumor and sadly, wrong.  What a way to end a year!

I suppose I would be used to it by now. After all, I get a few of these every year, especially when someone does not agree with a decision (even if I did not make it!), but I’m not. And it still wounds me deeply, especially since I have tried to build this parish with a focus on love and hope and welcoming others – all the others that the world so easily rejects – even the broken like me. We also center on ‘staying in the water’, even when we feel like running the other way, because that is often how God works, just like within a family. We often feel like leaving, but we stay, and low and behold, good comes, and God comes, tempers change, learning happens, and growth surpasses our own human selfishness. That is how I built our parish –  with love and patience and unconditional support – this is also how I hoped we all would be to one another.

Now, I will admit that I make mistakes, but not one of my mistakes was so horrible that I deserved that email. And, I work hard, take no salary, give to help support our life together, and I think that overall I am a pretty good pastor. I will admit that when I received this email, I felt like just going away. It takes a lot to keep us moving forward, and there are a lot of moving parts now that we have grown to the size we are; I am finding my personal time to be even less, and these type of words simply deflate me. 

The biggest mistake the ‘emailer’ made this week was they chose to send the email on Monday, the anniversary of my dad’s death, and I was simply in no mood, so I called them! (They were at first dumbfounded I guess, but it felt right until the phone was answered!) I then was rather insistent to know ‘who’ was leaving and ‘why’. They refused to tell me at first and then after my persistence, they offered two names. Now I can tell you that I knew of the first because they had done the wonderful courtesy and came to speak to me. They offered the reasons and some were sad, but understandable, but their leaving had nothing to do with the parish or the way ‘I run things’. The second, was news to me and so I called them, too! And, once again, the reasons given had nothing to do with me, or the parish; in fact, they were very sad and even unsure about the whole thing. They told me how they had moved during the past year and with a young family were struggling to travel the distance needed to get to church on time. So, they are going to another parish closer to their new home, but they admitted it was not the same. I trust they will be back one day. I left them with the words I leave everyone, “our home is always your home, whenever you need us, we are here…I run a parish and not a prison.”

Perhaps, as we begin a new year, this may be a good time for us to all  pause to make a new year’s resolution to our parish family, too. Maybe we can say to ourselves, “Father is always there for us, his door is always open, he makes himself available, when we are sick or in need, he always shows up; instead of casting dispersions on all the work we do together, let me go talk to him; maybe I don’t have all the details? Maybe that is why he is my pastor…”

One of the more under-rated categories of sin are the sins of speech. There are many ways we sin, but perhaps the most common way is by our speech. Too easily, almost without thought, we engage in gossip, idle chatter, lies, exaggerations, harsh attacks, uncharitable observations and remarks. With our tongue we can spread hatred, incite fear, maliciousness, spread misinformation, cause temptation, discourage, teach error, and ruin reputations. We can surely cause great harm with a gift capable of such good. So, maybe we need to simply pause and to honor one another more deeply.

Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew (18:15-17):

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Therefore, discretion must also give way to some transparency in given circumstances, and communities may need to address some matters publicly and clearly. But we never should engage in hurtful speech or uncaring emails. We should pause before we hit that ‘send’ button and think about the person on the receiving end. We are better than that…

When I was in seminary, one of my fellow seminarians had a wonderful turn of phrase that he often said when frustrated by himself, it went like this: “Help me, Lord! Please keep Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth! Put your word in my heart, so that when I do speak, it’s really you.”  Ahh, I try to live by that simple idiom even to this day. Yes, I often fail, but I always try. Will you try it, too, this new year to be kinder to others in your words and speech?

So, the lesson here? Be kinder to each other, and to me, (pretty please)? Rumors, gossip, innuendo are not only against our Saint Miriam Covenant, but they are the very things that often break a church apart.  And God appoints pastors to lead, guide, and admonish sometimes, too (even themselves!). Show up, honor the Mass, be with God and each other, even when you don’t feel like it and your life will become better and your faith more solid…
 
The world is hard enough; wouldn’t it be that much harder without Saint Miriam and one another? I shudder to even think…
 
Happy and Blessed New Year to all of us, and one of good spirits and nice folks who love one another always!
 


Christmas 2015 Reflection: Our Journey that Began with God.

 

It is hard to believe that yet another Christmas is almost upon us! It was only about eight years ago that found Sean and I sitting in a large, cavernous rented space at a Re-constructionist Jewish synagogue called Mishkan Shalom in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. We began with our first Mass on the Sunday after Easter.  At first, apart from a few friends, no one came. Week in and week out, not a soul.

We sat in the windows on the third floor of that sanctuary overlooking the parking lot and the “Ugly Moose” sign across the way, and no one came. But, we remained faithful. We dug in, prayed, and paid the rent from what little savings we had left.  When that money ran dry – we resorted to credit cards and bank loans. (We even learned that Beneficial is not so beneficial!) We honored the Celebration of the Mass every Thursday, followed by Rosary, and every Sunday no matter what, and oftentimes it was just the two of us sitting there. Yes, we did a lot of crying, and a lot of soul searching, but somehow we knew that one day, God would bring people who needed such a place…a place like Saint Miriam.

In time, we began to grow and came to need a space of our own, and in December 2009 we celebrated our first Mass in Blue Bell. The construction wasn’t even done yet; the construction workers were leaving out of the one door and we were moving in through the other! We didn’t have a fellowship space or a sacristy, and no library existed. We had no signs or lighting in the parking lot and the restrooms were barely functional. But we had God, and each other, and we forged ahead.

I remember that night as if it were yesterday because it was Christmas Eve! I remember coming in with Sean and Alan and Joe and so many others that gave up their day to help us move in. I remember walking in and seeing so many ends not wrapped up that I could hardly stop myself from crying out in worry and fear. I remember thinking about the large lease payments and the huge cost of moving in. I remember walking in – one by one – each with a chair in hand as we made our first makeshift Sanctuary. I remember how exhausted we all were as we left here that day; soon it come to pass, our first Christmas Eve Mass together, and in a brand new home for Saint Miriam.

As God continued to call Saint Miriam into being, we have completed hundreds of Masses and special services, and performed countless baptisms. We have much to be proud of, much to remember. We are creating a legacy for future generations yet to come – a place of light, happiness, and peace. And now we celebrate once again, but this time on a beautiful new campus that encompasses our beautiful parish, along with a vibrant preschool, cemetery, friary and more and more parishioners all rolled into one very busy life!

Now, I am not suggesting for a single moment that we have not had our share of difficulties.  However, none of these difficulties – the money issues, the floods, the staffing issues, my sojourn through the press, the people who have come and gone, the dead we have buried, and the lost we have found and then somehow lost again – in none of that has God been far off. No, God has remained as we have remained, and look at what we have built! I can think of no greater gift that we could have all received, save the birth of our Christ. Our journey began and remains always in God.

I pray that long after I am gone, others will remain to carry on what we have all begun; what we began on that cold March morning back in 2008 in that rented space that now seems as foreign and as far away as Bethlehem itself.

I pray that people will support us and realize what it takes to keep us alive. I pray that we will all remember what it was like before this place even was, and I pray that God will continue to bring others to us in hope and in love…joyfully to our doors as we welcome them into our hearts and new parish home. I pray that God will give the gift He so graciously gave to all of us gathered here…the gift of one another…the gift of love beyond measure.

Until then, we are quite a group, and I am proud to be part of you!

For unto us a Child is born…

Peaceful Christmas journey always,
 
Monsignor +Jim,
Pastor

 

 



A Very Merry Franciscan Christmas!

 
In Franciscan spirituality, poverty and incarnation are inextricably linked. The Incarnation is an important event for it is then that the great gift of our Father in Heaven, that His Son, Jesus Christ who, out of Love, through His own poverty, becomes one with us. It is a complex sentence, and even more complex gift!
 
At Saint Miriam, as pastor, I have always tried to invite people to move beyond the merely sentimental and ‘coloring book’ understanding of Christmas seen often as waiting for the baby Jesus, or Santa Claus, to an adult and more social appreciation of the true message of the Incarnation of God found in Christ. As a Franciscan, I join others who have always believed that the Incarnation was in fact Redemption, because in Jesus’ birth into our world, God was already saying that it is good to be human, God is here, and God is on our side, always.
 
Therefore, we should not allow this great feast of Christmas, and its preparation found in this holy Season of Advent, to be watered down in any way. We should stand firmly, as Catholics, on our vision for the world: one where the inherent dignity of the human person is not only understood theoretically, but felt practically in every home, under every tree this Christmas.
 
We must open ourselves to the leadings of The Word of God within our hearts, and the promptings of Jesus found in the words of sacred scripture this Advent at the edges of our ears, to move us beyond the temptations of the commercialization of this season to become better people and to foster in a better world. God always confronts, converts, and then consoles, and always in that order. The suffering, injustice, terrorism, illnesses, and devastation on this planet are too great now to settle for any cute, romanticized version of the infantile Jesus. We need more. We need the real Jesus.
 
For St. Francis, the Incarnation was a time of great joy. Bethlehem spoke of the love and poverty of God. It was by the example of that very God, the Word made Flesh, that Francis embraced poverty to begin our way of life found centuries later, still going strong for the life of the world. And, it was in the year 1223, in a small Italian town of Greccio, as a deacon, that he built a ‘new Bethlehem’ in the crèche we honor, bless, and adore every year at this time.
 
So, today, more than ever, the goal of every Franciscan – and every Christian – and all of us who make Saint Miriam their home – should be to make every city, every place, a  new  Greccio, where Jesus, the Christ, becomes a real, living experience. But, we can never create the new Greccio if we do not experience poverty. For it is in poverty where we flee the emptiness of the world and seek the fullness of life in Christ. It loves little things, and is content with the mundane and ordinary things of life that others so easily take for granted. When one is poor, one can possess nothing but God. It is in that form of poverty to the world, where we do not let things enslave us so that we become closer to the Incarnational Jesus and actually begin to change things for the better…
 
Please take a moment to look at our Christmas Season Calendar of events. There you will find, beginning tomorrow morning, many ways we bring Christ home; from the children of our preschool this Friday with their annual Christmas Pageant, to ‘the greening’ of the parish on Sunday after the 11:00am Morning Mass, to the The Longest Night Service on Tuesday evening, to our expanded Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses. Yes, we are Christians. We are Catholics. We are Franciscans. We believe in a real and loving Jesus who came into this world to save us all without merit, without test! 

May the Peace of the Lord be with you this Christmas. May you have a very merry Franciscan Christmas with us at Saint Miriam. 

God bless you and yours, as we welcome in the Child who redeemed the world through His Incarnational Presence among us!
 


Tying Memories Together.

Tonight at 6:30pm I will remember. I will be in Norristown at Life Celebrations to speak at the annual tree lighting and memorial. And, I  mean I always remember, but tonight it will be to help others, too. At least I pray so. I will remember where I am, why I am here, the season we find ourselves, and my dad. Tonight, I will remember.
 
As I will say tonight, over the last several weeks, as a priest I find myself struggling. I have always loved Advent. I love the colors and the smells, I love the penitential aspects of the season that call us to pause and to reorder our lives. I love the candles and the prayers. But last year, on Christmas, I lost my dad. It seems so strange to me to say that “I lost him”, but that is what happened. One moment dad was there and the next he was gone; lost. And I have been lost ever since, too. Now, I have done my best to be a good priest. I have buried others and supported my parishioners in their losses, I have buried the dead and anointed the dying and visited the sick and the lost. But deep within me, where those silent prayers dwell, also lives a buried pain of the loss of my dad. I lost my dad last Christmas. There, I said it again, but it doesn’t seem any more real.
 
I am sure that there are many like me. Those who are trying to get into the spirit of the season and join others, but who simply cannot. Try as we might, we are in bereavement. That is why I am going tonight and I why I pray others join us on December 22nd for the Longest Night Service. You may not need it, but those of who do…we need you, too.

 



Adoring Christ.

 

Waiting is difficult because we’re forced to admit that we are not in control—God is – that is the heart of the Advent message. This is why we chose to honor our Lord with a time of Adoration. I pray you will join us to clearly show the world what is within our hearts.

It all begins with an Opening Mass and Adoration on Thursday, December 3rd at 6:00pm. This should be a simple way for all of us to gather, to place our secular plans on hold, and spend some time with our Lord. Is God not worth 45 minutes this Thursday evening?

While the exact origin of the Forty Hours Devotion is not known, the first clear attestation for its celebration comes from Milan in 1527. In its inception, it was celebrated as reparation for the sins of the community and was motivated to offer prayers to God for protection during the crisis of war. In our troubled world today, I can think of no finer way than to seek the solace of God than to gather in His Presence as a community of faith and love.

How it all works is rather simple: Traditionally this 40 hours will begin with a celebration of Mass. At the end of this opening Mass the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and over a period of a few days the faithful are given the opportunity to assemble in prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament. The form of prayer to be prayed can be done in diverse ways. The celebration then will end with the celebration of Mass at 9:00am on Saturday, December 5th.

The Forty Hours Devotion will be an opportunity to gather as a community before the Blessed Sacrament and to pray before the Lord in solemn adoration. It will give us time to deepen our appreciation of the importance of the mystery of the Eucharist in our lives. As the community gathers in prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, it witnesses to our deep and earnest belief, as a Church, that what is before us is bread no longer, but truly the Body of Christ.

I will look for you to join us. As Catholics this should be an easy one.