Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Come closer to Christ this Lent here in Catholic Peekskill

Catholic Peekskill prepares for Ash Wednesday 2012 by burning last years Palms (photo by Audrey Warn)

It’s that time of year again…a time for giving up the myriad creature comforts to which we cling in order to ease life’s burdens.  Maybe we’ll give up sweets or resist some temptation that’s gotten a hold of us, maybe we’ll give more of our time to acts of charity or spend more time praying.  But, why?  What are these exercises in self-denial supposed to achieve?  Has God asked us to embark on some grand self-improvement plan?  Hardly.  In fact, the Catechism asks us to be mindful of viewing our sacrifices merely for personal gain. 
No.  We fast, pray and give—we deny ourselves—during this Holy Season in order to grow closer to Christ—the ultimate self-denier!   Not only do these little sufferings allow us in tangible ways to unite with Christ’s tremendous suffering and death on the cross, they also help us to grow closer to Him as we realize that all the little crutches that help us to get through the day, all the ways we think of ourselves first before we reach out to others and, all the times we forget to praise, thank and talk to God in prayer keep us from our ultimate goal—true relationship with Him.  When we cling to ourselves and all our comforts, we don’t cling to Him!  When we look to ourselves for all the answers, we have no need to look to Him!
Over the past few weeks in the Gospel readings, we’ve heard stories of men and women of great Faith—the woman who suffered bleeding for twelve years but, knew if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment she would be healed; the paralytic whose friends tore open the roof to lower him into the house where Jesus was preaching just for a chance that he would be healed; the father who sought Jesus’ touch to cast out demons that had possessed his son for a lifetime.  These stories of incredible Faith remind and inspire us to believe that anything is possible with God if we first believe.  The challenge is to step out in Faith.  We need to be reminded of this often because it is so easy to make gods out of all those things we cling to, the things we fool ourselves into thinking we can’t live without; it is so easy to make ourselves, God!
So, as you pray about the sacrifices you will make this season, I ask you to think about the ultimate goal—becoming closer to Him.  Is there some temptation that is keeping you from following Christ more fully?  If you’ve chosen to fast from some habit, food or pleasure, will you feel its absence so keenly that you will become more aware of your need to rely Him alone?  If you are considering giving more of your time, talent or treasure, where does the Holy Spirit need you most? Will you open your heart to Him in deeper prayer and devotional time, shutting out the noise of the world in order to hear Him more intimately? 
It is my fervent prayer that this Lent will be a time of many graces and blessings as you discover the tremendous capacity of God’s love…right here in Catholic Peekskill!

Here is our Ash Wednesday Schedule from www.assumptionpeekskill.org:

Ash Wednesday is on February 22nd, 2012 and ashes will be administered as follows: 

5:30 am Spanish Mass 
7:00 a.m. Mass 
9:00 a.m. Mass 
12:00 Noon. Liturgy of the Word 
5:30 pm Liturgy of the Word 
7:30 p.m. Spanish Mass

Confessions will also be available
at:8:30 a.m. & 4:30 p.m.
Please remember that Ash Wednesday is a Day of Fast and Abstinence and that all the Fridays of Lent are Days of Abstinence from meat.


Romance in Catholic Peekskill

On the weekend before Saint Valentines Day 2012, Catholic Peekskill celebrated a renewal of vows ceremony in both English and Spanish. 

Couples who had been married in the Church less than six months and over sixty years (and everything in between) approached the altar to pledge their love again.  Of course, after their rings were blessed again, the grooms were invited to kiss their brides. After the Mass the couples enjoyed wedding cake. I hope you enjoy these pictures taken by Mary Mancini!

Catholic Peekskill is praying for a new flourishing of chastity.  Long live life long, life-giving marriage!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem" Psalm 122

Forgive the long delay between posts!  Catholic Peekskill's Pastor was in the Holy Land.   Prayers offered for Assumption during this 8 day pilgrimage were offered most fervently precisely in the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have assumed into heaven.
Here is a photo of myself with Cardinal Elect Dolan from that church which is called The Church of the Dormition.

Photo by Father Richard Veras
 I hope Catholic Peekskill felt the prayers from the holy City.  More prayers -- especially for Assumption School and CCD -- were offered in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth where Jesus Himself went to school and studied the religious teachings of the faith. The altar below is believed with certainty to be the place where God became Man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Translation: The Word was made Flesh here.
Here is a photo from Jericho at the place believed (with less certainty) to be the tree that vertically challenged Zacchaeus (Luke 19) climbed to see the Lord and his life was changed forever.