A REDEMPTORIST PARISH
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Fr. George’s Corner

This past autumn, Mr. Paul Macari, Esq. visited Saint Clement’s to talk to us about the various instruments one can use to financially contribute to a parish.  In a word, while most people think in terms of bequests with their Last Will & Testament, other means do exist which may be a much better fit for some folks.  (We always appreciate any gifts but, as the pastor, I would never want to see anyone put themselves and their families thru any hardship.)

You may remember me plugging for that meeting last year.  Unfortunately, that meeting’s timing was woeful, because it the first significant snowfall (with a mixture of ice) of the year.  Mister Macari was very gracious about it all, but I was quite disappointed.

He will be here again in June and I hope no snowstorm will get in the way this time!  My simple request to everyone (if you are inclined to help the parish, but are not sure of exactly how you can best accomplish that) is to attend that 6:30 meeting on Thursday, June 15th.  We will be in the Ligouri room but, being the optimist, I’m hoping for an overflow crowd so we will need to move the meeting to the church.

May this meeting bear many fruits for Saint Clement’s in the years to come!

In the Redeemer —

Father George

 

It is better to lead to example.  Equally true, it is better to offer a positive than a negative.  With those thoughts in mind, I’d like to share this ….

For every weekend that the parish meets the weekly budget number for collections, we Redemptorists will write out a $100 check to add to the collection total.  So, as a community, we could add approximately $5,200 to the general budget.  Again, this contribution will be contingent upon how the parish responds each weekend.

It is my hope that everyone will look closely at what they give and, if possible, respond accordingly.  Besides instituting this potential weekly contribution, the staff, the Finance Council, and I hope to use the next year to take a closer look at expenses to make wise use of funds.

In the Redeemer —

Father George

 

I’m putting out the call for lectors and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.  As time slips by, those who are involved in these ministries begin to dwindle because of age, health, relocation, etc. It’s time beef up these ministries.

My request is simple: take it to prayer.  One needs to reflect upon whether ultimately the Lord is calling one to serve at the liturgy in such ways.  Nevertheless, one also needs to be qualified to do so: baptized, confirmed, have received communion, in good standing with the Church (that is, sacramentally married or living as a chaste single person), and practicing the Faith.

I’d also like to put the call out to our youth with respect to being altar servers. This is a ministry which needs to be added to, too.

If you feel called to serve in these way, please talk to me, Father Bob, or any of the Pastoral Council members.  The picture array of the PC members can be found in the gathering space between the church and the front office.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

 

In the Redeemer —

Father George

 

 

Behind my mother’s house is a large slab of concrete that serves as a back porch. Just off the porch are several birdfeeders, and one is a gift my mother received last year from a friend.  It’s shaped like a long bullet, made of metal with a sleek skin, and has four small notches where the littlest birdies can sit and eat.  Chickadees, nuthatches, and goldfinches frequent it—as do the squirrels.  The grand difference is those feathered friends get to eat to their hearts’ content…
Last Tuesday I was eating breakfast (bacon and eggs—thanks, Mom), when a big squirrel tried to perform the impossible.  Somehow he scaled the curved pole to where he was hanging by his back paws, downward.  But, as ingenious construction would have it, he was not quite able to reach the feeder’s first opening.  Front paws probed for another place gain purchase, so as to hang and stretch out just a bit lower.  Oh, and how he tried, and he thought he had found the right spot!  However, as he shifted his weight, he slid down to the ground and into the flowers.  (At this point I could imagine a cardinal and blue jay laughing at the whole scene from the pine tree.)  “Poor fellow, when is he is ever going to learn?  Birdseed is for birds!”
While I won’t put it past the squirrels (one more agile and less chubby) will eventually conquer that contraption, it will take ages, methinks, to see that particular moment arrive. But, certainly they will continue trying, for the lure is too great.

Do we fancy ourselves to be squirrels?

Do we fancy ourselves to be birds?

In the Redeemer —

Father George

 

 

Earlier in the month I met with several members of the Pastoral Council, the Sacristans, Music Ministry, and various others for a liturgy meeting.  Part of the meeting was to prepare for Holy Week.  Another part of the meeting was to look at the liturgy in general, and to see if there’s anything we need to do.

Three things came from the meeting …. And the plan is to implement these items starting next week, the final weekend of April.

First of all, Bishop Scharfenburger has made it known, wherever he goes to celebrate, that his preference is for people to kneel at the Lamb of God.  While this may be difficult for some people given health or age (so, please feel free to sit), I’d ask for us to revert to this particular posture at that sacred hymn.

Secondly, during Sunday Masses it has been the custom to sing the Alleluia in response to the proclamation of the gospel.  We can still make a joyful noise, but we really should respond the right way first: “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.” but the said response needs to be voiced.

Last of all, we had a very robust discussion about silence, both before and after Mass.  I’d ask, at the very least, that everyone make the effort to maintain silence before Mass.  Silent prayer is needed more there, me- thinks, to prepare our hearts for the breaking open of the Word and the breaking of the Bread.  And, if you see someone making a thanksgiving after Mass, in silent prayer, please be courteous and move your conversation elsewhere.  My house is a house of prayer, says the Lord.

Thank you for your attention and cooperation with all of these!

In the Redeemer —

Father George

 

EASTER:

This weekend’s message is from Father Charlie….

“In my Redemptorist formation, I knew several seminarians who were from St. Clement’s, some of whom were in my class.  All these young men were affable, engaging, and talented.  Through them, my initial impression of the people of the parish was always positive, even before direct contact during the Mission.

I can’t help thinking of Our Lord’s saying, “By their fruits, you’ll know them.”  Indeed, the Mission only confirmed that for me.

“The warm and intense response of the people of St. Clement’s to the Mission event was truly a grace, a blessing, a sign that God’s people are ever hungry to know and love Him more concretely in their daily lives.  What happens on a Mission goes far beyond a ‘this world’ analysis.  The Holy Spirit is always present to prepare and open up the hearts of the faithful with His dynamism, and to use the missionary (in this case, yours truly, a poor instrument) in the way He so desires for refreshing and revitalizing the faith of His people.

“Their sincerity, appreciation, generosity, and joy touched me deeply!  My prayer is that the fire of their love for Our Good Lord and for His Mother becomes contagious for the entire city of Saratoga and beyond.

Blessings to you, to your Redemptorist community, and to your dear people!”

Father Charlie

 

We approach Holy Week, which will conclude with the celebration of the Paschal Mystery hidden away in the Triduum.How will you celebrate it?  I mention the following not to blow my own horn but, like the example of my confirmation namesake Saint Paul, I believe a priest should try to show good example.

When I was a freshman in high school, I was on the track team.  When Holy Week arrived, even the public schools (1980) would set aside Holy Thursday and Good Friday as vacation days.  As a little boy I’d gone to the Good Friday service every year, which is traditionally held at 3 o’clock.  At that time in life I was awakening to my vocation, so I had added impetus to be at church.

Mr. M., the German teacher and track coach, was a fallen-away Catholic, who now said he was a staunch atheist.  He announced that we’d have track practice that Friday at 3 o’clock—and he expected everyone to be there.  I recognized his thinly-veiled challenge—and went to church anyway.  When we saw each other on Monday, Mr. M was quick to tell me how disappointed he was with me.  I acknowledged his comment by simply saying I understood.  (I had asked him to move the time earlier or later, but he refused to budge.)

 

Although I loved running and I enjoyed learning German, I discontinued both my sophomore year.  On Good Fridays I remember Mr. M—and I pray for him.

How will you spend the moments of remembering your redemption?

In the Redeemer —

Father George

Mid Lent:

Several months ago I referred to parishioners as being Clementines.  I was quite surprised to later hear from several people that they don’t remember that moniker ever being used before.  (For the record, I was thinking of Saint Clement and that old song “My Darling, Clementine” when that word popped into my mind, not about citrus fruit.)  Chances are that many of you have an inkling, but in case you don’t even have that, we’re now on the verge of a Clementine celebration of 100 years ….

If you look out at the front of the church, you’ll see that two banners are now hanging.  Perhaps you’ve seen them while driving by?  Or maybe you usually walk in the front entrance when you come to Mass?  Nevertheless, if you haven’t taken a good look at them, I’d hope that everyone makes the effort to view them up close, not just in passing.

The exact beginning of Saint Clement’s was in October of 1917.  When we reach this coming October, we plan to celebrate.  One hundred years is not to be sneezed at, for we’ve grown from humble beginnings into a vibrant parish—actually the second largest parish in the Albany diocese!  A celebration is in order when October arrives.

So, oh my darling Clementines, please keep your eyes open to see what will be happening a half-year from now.  The primary places you’ll find more info will be in the bulletin and on the website.  Thank you.

In the Redeemer —

Father George

Mid Lent:

Out of sight,

Out of mind.”

This is a phrase we’ve all heard, and it applies as much to us as it does to others.  After all, that’s human nature.

I’ve mentioned several times that we have a mission at the end of March—and it starts Monday evening and runs to Thursday evening.  Our missionary is Father Charlie Coury, CSsR.  This weekend all of you are getting the chance to see and hear him, and I hope everyone will make the firm decision to attend during the whole mission.  Yes, we certainly live very busy lives, but one might even say that our lives are hyperactive, jam-packed, and absolute relentless!  In the midst of all that, a mission may very well seem like “just another activity” among many others.  While that may be true with respect to schedules, I would contend that is false in terms of priorities.  Please allow me to explain ….

How many of us will skip a night of sleep—just to get things done?  How about skipping breakfast, lunch, and dinner—just to make sure that we get things done?  And what about skipping a shower—just to accomplish other tasks?  Clearly, these things are a priority!  Sooner or later a growling stomach, yawning, and stinkiness will force us out of the “out of sight, out of mind” zone.

Physical needs press upon us daily, sometimes hourly. Do our  spirits press upon us in the same way?  No, they don’t, not sensibly.  So, we can then say that these spiritual needs are less important?  No, actually they press upon us even more!  Grace, light, right relationship, joy, peace, hope …. and so many other things!  We yearn for these gifts!

A mission in the middle of Lent is exactly what our souls need!  May we Clementines fill the church every evening!  Even more, may our hearts be filled with Jesus’ blessings!

Amen.

In the Redeemer —

Father George

 

3rd week of Lent:

The Feast Day of St. Joseph

Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture. We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?”

(Mt 13:55).

Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage.  Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph’s genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Mt 1:1-16 and Lk 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as “son of David,” a royal title used also for Jesus.  We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man who loved Jesus. His one concern was for the safety of this child entrusted to him. We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son for over and over the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”

(Lk 4:22)

Joseph is also patron saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.

There is much we still wish we could know about Joseph — exactly where and when he was born, how he spent his days, exactly when and how he died. Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus’ public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry. Joseph is the patron saint of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus’ public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth. But Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was -“a righteous man” (Mt 1:18).

Prayer to Saint Joseph

Oh Saint Joseph whose protection is so great so strong, so

prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my

interests and desires. Oh Saint Joseph do assist me by

your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your

divine son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So that having engaged here below your heavenly power I

may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving

of fathers. Oh Saint Joseph I never weary contemplating

you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach

while he reposes near your heart press him in my name

and kiss His forehead for me and ask him to return the kiss

when I draw my dying breath. Saint Joseph Patron of

departing Souls Pray for me.  Amen.

2nd week of Lent:

Lent is a season for change of heart, pondering and reflecting. With that in mind, I offer a simple story….  Having been caught in a trap, a fox was able to break away after a severe struggle, but he was forced to leave his tail in order to save his skin. After a while he began to realize the disgrace which the loss of a tail would bring upon him, and he almost wished that he had died in the trap.

After much consideration, however he made up his mind to save his good name. He called a meeting of all the foxes in the forest. There he proposed that all should follow his example.

“You have no idea of the ease and comfort with which I now move about”, he said. “ I would never have believed it if I had not tried it myself. But really, when one comes to think of it, a tail is so heavy and unnecessary that it’s a wonder that we should have put up with it for so long”. He paused for a moment, in hope he might find some support, but no one seemed inclined to interrupt, so he continued: “I propose, my friends, that you profit from my experience and henceforth from this day all foxes cut off their tails”.

An old fox, who had listened carefully to all that was said now stepped forward. “ I rather think”, said he, “that you would not have advised us to part with our tails if there had been any chance of getting your own back again”.

In the Redeemer,

Fr. George

 

Beginning of Lent:

Two weeks ago I disappeared into the northern Pennsylvania woods for a solitary retreat. I rented a cabin in a state park. One draw was it is one of my favorite places. Another draw was that it’s “off the grid”. The biggest draw was that it is very, very, quiet, just the place to relax, read, and pray.

Besides a few other human beings in and around the rustic cabin area, the only other neighbors I noticed were chipmunks, squirrels, blue jays, and deer. (The bears were kind enough to stay up on the mountains, far away.) Talking was very limited, and if it did happen it was only when I went running into town to get a hot coffee. Other than that, there was not a word spoken—even to myself (although I’m very adept at talking to myself).

Over the years, I’ve heard the following mantra ( and I’m sure this is something everyone has heard it, too).  “Oh I need a vacation from my vacation!”  Oh poor souls, running off to Vegas or Orlando and then returning burnt out!  Why do that to one’s self? A retreat is not a vacation, although many equate them to be synonyms. Far from it….

With a retreat…directed or solitary…the focus is upon a different kind of re-creation. Vacations deal with body and mind. Retreats push beyond, dealing with heart and soul. It is purposefully placing yourself in the Lord’s presence, and allowing Him to take it from there. When was your last retreat? I mean when have you allowed for that distinctive silence and distance, where the Good Lord has the opportunity to touch you oh-so deeply?

A retreat is a wonderful thing. Actually, it can be one of the most wonderful of things! And when is the last time you heard someone say, “Oh I need a retreat from my retreat”?

In the Redeemer— Father George

 

Within the next few weeks, registration for CCD will be opening for next year.  I’d encourage all parents to take advantage of this early registration, because it allows our faith formation team to best formulate the arrangement of teachers, classes, training, materials, and much more.  We can then attend to your children’s needs from the very start without any significant changes or interruptions.

Each year we’ve run into the same problems, namely losing catechists and doubling up on classes.  Much of this is attributable to tardiness.  I suspect that many parents might not see the big picture, because they are only worried about their child.  (Fair enough.)  Vacations and the busyness of life get “blamed” for the delay in registering.  (Not fair.)  Then it somehow it becomes the CCD program’s responsibility to make all the pieces fit together.

Quite simply, that will not happen.  Registration is opening in March, much earlier than ever before.  No parent can say they haven’t had sufficient time to enroll their child for next year.  At the same time, please be aware that the absolute deadline is September 15th. With rare exception (someone just moved into the area from far, far away), no student will be admitted after that date.  You shall be hearing me repeating this message.

 

In the Redeemer —

Father George

 

Next weekend a Redemptorist priest will be visiting Saint Clement’s and talking at all of the Masses. His name is Father Anthony Nguyen, CSsR, and he Anthony is associated with the program called Unbound.

In a few words, it is a charitable organization, founded by lay Catholics, which seeks to answer our Lord’s call to help the impoverished, poor, and weak of this world. What is particularly commendable about Unbound is that one is able to see the results of one’s charity in very personal and tangible ways. For example, my hometown parish in Mount Joy, PA has become a sponsor to one child (and his family) in Guatemala for the past 7 years. And, as I understand things back home, this program has found roots in Saint Mary’s not in just a parochial sponsorship, but also in a variety of individual sponsorships.

Years ago, while here in Saratoga for the summer as a seminarian, I learned a very good lesson from a former pastor, Father Kevin Milton. His advice was to be generous, “because, George, generosity brings about greater generosity.” In so many ways I’ve found that to be true over the years. With that in mind, I’ll be sponsoring a child myself, with the hope of hearing over time how a daily sacrifice of $1.18 makes a big difference in another person’s life.

This will be my Lenten sacrifice, which quite doesn’t have an ending. However, I’m fine with that. Maybe there are others who might feel the same ….

In the Redeemer —

Father George