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 —
“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!
In the Redeemer —
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?”
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?”
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,
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 —
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 —
We should never underestimate the seeds planted in our lives. When I look back on my life, I see that the two persons who had the greatest impact were my grandmothers. In October, I wrote a 3-part Pastor’s Corner about my mother’s mother and her extended ordeal in the hospital. Oh, I learned so much more from her, but that episode was her pinnacle lesson:
Always be thankful of blessings received, regardless of results.
My father’s mother didn’t share any dramatic moments like that with me. Her influence was steady, sure, and quiet. We lived nearly 80 miles away, but we traveled upstate many weekends during my childhood. I could expect certain things to happen with each visit: seeing her taking a long break to say her rosaries, and see her kneeling and praying with her old Polish prayer book come nighttime. Grandma had the most tinny voice, and while I almost wanted to cover my ears at Sunday Mass, I could also hear a deep faith in those raspy, warbling notes.
From my perspective, grandmothers are the ones in the best position to share the goodness, the truth, and the beauty of the Faith. I hope and pray that is same can be said for you and your grandmothers! I was highly blessed, twice over! I pray it is the same for you.
Regardless of who you are—grandmother, or grandfather, mom or dad, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, cousin or friend—the impact we have upon each other is quietly immeasurable. I say “quietly” because it may take half a lifetime until those seeds burst forth and bear fruit. What you say and do now, for good or for ill, will shape another person. It took me years to fully realize these two blessings.
What kind of example are you? Will another appreciate virtue because of you? Or will they learn vice? What seeds have you planted so far? What seeds will you plant in the future?
In the Redeemer —
End of January:
Time has flown by, hasn’t it? It seems like yesterday we were welcoming in the new year, and now we’re already into February! The groundhog has come and gone, and regardless of what he prognosticated, we still have six weeks of winter to go. But hopefully those few weeks will fly by, too! Oh, and right around the corner is Lent! Yes, ashes on the forehead ready on March 1st.
Last year I heard many people making comments that somehow Lent felt “different” than in years passed. Was that because it fell in the Year of Mercy? Was it because we were already weary of politics and our minds were turning toward more important things, like our spiritual well-being? Was it some other, indiscernible reason? I suspect only the Good Lord knows why I was hearing that thought voiced by so many people.
With that in mind, what to expect this Lent, to make it different, to make it meaningful and blessed?
Well, one thing to expect is a Mission toward the end of March. Father Charlie Coury, CSsR will be giving a Mission here at Saint Clement’s from Monday the 27th thru to Thursday the 30th. He’ll be arriving a few days earlier to preach at all the Masses the weekend of the 25th & 26th, so you’ll have the chance to size him up ahead of time ….
And what do I hope for?
I hope that all of Saint Clement’s parishioners will show up for all those evenings, to take full advantage of a Lenten Mission. I hope that you all will tentatively mark it down on your schedules. And, after hearing Father Charlie that weekend you’ll but up to giving it a go of giving the Good Lord a chance to speak to your hearts, thru him, the rest of the week!
In the Redeemer —